Stay or go: Is anyone un-sellable ahead of key summer for Arsenal

By all estimates, it is going to be a busy summer for the Arsenal squad, with a tranche of players coming in and out.

Though the Gunners were only six points from a top four finish, you’d be hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t agree that a substantial rebuild and/or remodel is required to take this team to the next level.

After two season at the helm, it is likely that Mikel Arteta has wrung every last drop out of the players he has had available to him and the time has come to move to the next phase of the rebuild project. So who stays and who goes? We run the rule over the Arsenal squad below:

Bernd Leno
Although the German remains under contract at the Emirates, there is an increasing feeling that he may look to leave for pastures new this summer. Despite a post-Christmas wobble, Leno has been excellent for Arsenal and brought a sense of stability to a position that can do so much for the temperament and tempo of a team. Losing him would be a blow but, if a sizeable offer were to emerge, could we turn it down? We paid about £20million for him in 2018.

Runar Alex Runarsson
Brought in as a quick-fix when the club’s pursuit of Brentford’s David Raya failed, Runar has showed why he was only considered a number two at French side Dijon. This level appears a bit above him and it would probably be best for all concerned if a deal was agreed to move him on, if only to make room for one of our stable of youth goalkeepers. We paid Dijon about £1million last summer. If we can find someone to pay us that again, it would be smart business.

Mat Ryan
Although not our player, it’s worth noting that Ryan showed himself to be reliable and commanding when called upon in Leno’s absence. According to the Athletic, Ryan’s status as an overseas player means Arsenal probably won’t pursue a permanent deal but he is without doubt solid backup should we decide to revisit that plan.

Hector Bellerin
Multiple reports cite the Spaniard as likely to move on this summer and, though that would be a shame, there is a feeling of inevitability about it. Hector has been a tremendous servant to Arsenal and is an excellent role model and leader. His loss would be significant for the club but, sometimes, it is best for all parties that a split happens. At this stage of his career, and having been in London for so long, Hector probably requires a new challenge if he hopes to develop further and win back his place in the national team. Should command a healthy fee for the transfer pot.

Kieran Tierney
Not much to say other than, he stays. Will step into the role of leader next season as players come and go.

Gabriel
Adapted pretty well to the Premier League in his first season and played a lot of games. His abilities on the ball could do with polishing which is hopefully what he’ll be working on in the summer but no reason we shouldn’t see him in an Arsenal jersey again next year.

Rob Holding
Growing rapidly into a leading figure in the dressing room and among an increasingly vocal and trusted core within the dressing room. Not as slick on the ball as the modern game might require but the £2million man is combative and hard-working. If the manager can squeeze another five per cent out of his game, he will be an important part of the squad for a few years to come.

Cedric Soares
After an extended stint in the side in the middle of last season, the Portuguese appeared to go missing from March onwards, often missing out on squads entirely. No longer trusted at left back or in his favoured right, one has to wonder if something has taken place behind the scenes to have prompted such a stark exclusion from the squad. His hefty contract means he is probably going nowhere but, if even a modest offer arrived, I’d be minded to take it, particularly as the Gunners are said to be in the market for a right back.

Calum Chambers
With Holding and Tierney, is among a core of trusted and increasingly vocal figures in the dressing room. There is a degree of versatility about the way he plays and has a cross on him like few others at the club. I don’t see him moving on, especially because of his home grown status.

Pablo Mari
Solid enough, good in the air, unfussy, plays a good pass – there’s plenty to like about the Spaniard. Played a number of games alongside Rob Holding, who seemed to be a good foil, and has the advantage of being a left-footer. Is he unsellable? No, not by any stretch of the imagination. My guess is he will give it another year in north London to see how things shape up but I don’t think that club would turn down a sizeable offer should it arrive. We paid £6.8million for him last year.

Bukayo Saka
It would take an offer of £120million to even consider selling this young man and even then I’m sure there would be reservations. Nothing more to say here.

Dani Ceballos
He came, he tried, he tried for a second season, he left. Hasn’t worked in England as he might have liked but he will almost undoubtedly go on to have a decent career in Spain.

Martin Odegaard
The Athletic has the Norweigan as our number one target of the summer and I can see how that might be the case. A technically-gifted playmaker, a grafter and an emerging young leader, what’s not to like? The fact is, however, Real Madrid require a rebuild of their own and, in Odegaard, have a player who is match-ready and coming into his prime. It will take a big offer to convince Madrid to sell and I’m not sure we are in a position to be putting all our eggs into Odegaard’s basket, as good as he is. Would be a coup if we can pull if off but I wouldn’t bank on it, even if Madrid have eye-watering levels of debt.

Thomas Partey
Had a decent run of games from March onwards which will hopefully boost his confidence going into the new season. Will be the focal point of our midfield next season and is going nowhere.

Mohamed Elneny
A hugely well-liked and valued member of the playing squad and an all-round good egg. The Egyptian tries hard and is seldom less than reliable. With less playing time on offer next season, however, can we justify taking up a space in the squad for him when there are several home-grown options who might be better bets? The only question is whether we can convince someone to part with cash for him. He is said to have cost us about £10million in 2016. I’d take half of that if it was offered tomorrow.

Emile Smith Rowe
Like Saka, this young man is the future of our club. There is almost no offer that would be sufficient.

Granit Xhaka
Various reports suggest the Swiss is looking for a move this summer and perhaps the time is right. He has had his ups and downs at Arsenal but could rarely be accused of giving less than 100 per cent for the cause, even if he has been silly at times. Ironically, the 2020/21 campaign was probably his best in an Arsenal shirt and his value to the team was demonstrated on numerous occasions when he was out of the team. We paid £30million for him in 2016. Given how football has been so badly hit by the pandemic, it seems unlikely we will recoup that sort of money now but I’d be reluctant to accept less than £20million.

Alexandre Lacazette
With just a year left on his current deal, it’s time for Arsenal to stick or twist on the Frenchman. Laca finished the season as our top goalscorer in all competitions and, like Xhaka, probably enjoyed his best season in an Arsenal shirt, despite many occasions when he was asked to take up positions by the manager which may have made his life more difficult. Ultimately, though, with the club at a crossroads in terms of our evolution, now would be a good time to move Laca on, if we can attract a suitable offer. We paid about £46.5million for the Frenchman in 2017.

Willian
So as not to be unkind, let’s leave it as this: Any offer received for the Brazilian should be considered.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
Will be looking to get back on track after a difficult campaign which saw him endure time away from football to deal with personal issues. When you consider it, he really did have a lousy year on a personal level which I’m sure he will be looking to put firmly behind him. Don’t see him moving on unless an offer in excess of £25million arrives.

Nicolas Pepe
Finished the campaign like a man possessed after a tough start to the year. By the middle of December, many were wondering how much we would accept just to be rid of him. By the end of May, we are looking ahead to what could be a breakout season for the Ivorian. There has always been a top player there, it has just been battles with consistency that have kept him from hitting the heights more regularly. Hopefully, he will be given a fair crack at the first team next season and he can look to build on an excellent finish to 20/21. I don’t think the club will be entertaining offers for Pepe simply because of how far it would fall short of the £75million paid for him in 2018.

Reiss Nelson
Lots of us have lots of time for Reiss…but the manager doesn’t. That’s fair enough, I guess, given that the boss watches him day in and day out on the training ground. Do I think he has had ample chance to show what he can really do? No. Is he likely to get that next season? No. In which case, it would probably be best for us to look at moving the Hale End graduate on as much as I think we will regret it. Our need to free up funds shouldn’t come at the cost of a respectable offer, though. If Rhian Brewster can generate £20million, we shouldn’t accept a penny less for Nelson.

Eddie Nketiah
Wherever he ends up, Eddie will net plenty of goals. He takes up great positions and he has a keen eye for goal. I can only think it is a stylistic issue that has prevented Eddie from greater first-team opportunities this season and, in all honesty, I don’t see those issues going away in time for next season. The way he plays his football appears to be at odds with what the manager wants from a striker and, with just a year left on his deal, perhaps it is time to part ways. Like Nelson, I think it is a transfer we may live to regret but an offer in excess of £20million should help offset that in the short term.

Gabriel Martinelli
Another of our big stars of the future, Gabi is going nowhere.

LOAN PLAYERS

William Saliba
A make-or-break summer for the young Frenchman. For whatever reason, he didn’t seem to click with Arteta but let’s hope a successful loan spell in France will see him return primed and ready to push for a spot in the first team. He seems to have the talent for it, let’s hope the manager sees as much too. He won’t be keen to waste another year of his career on the bench so, frankly, it’s shit or get off the pot time for Arsenal. Cost us the thick end of £30million in 2019.

Sead Kolasinac
We should take whatever we can get for Sead. We missed his experience in Tierney’s absence in the spring but that doesn’t make him a viable long-term option. His time has come and gone in north London, let’s part on good terms.

Konstantinos Mavropanos
Had a good spell on loan in Germany but has never really had the chance to prove himself in the Premier League. Frankly, with the number of centre backs we have on our books, I don’t see that chance coming any time soon either. If Stuttgart and Sven Mistlintat can come up with an offer of about £5million, perhaps with some clauses thrown in too, I don’t see why we wouldn’t move him on at this point. He cost us about £2million in 2018. Another year on loan is an option but, at this stage, a more permanent solution would probably be best.

Lucas Torreira
Personal problems mean he wants to be closer to home in South America. Was in and out of the Athletico Madrid team last season but will be pleased to have collected a league winner’s medal nonetheless. It’s unlikely any side in South America will have the sort of money we want for him so his future remains a little up in the air. Perhaps the summer break will help resolve some of his personal issues and we can think a little more clearly about his future in a month or so. I don’t see a future for him in north London at this stage, though. We paid about £22million for him in 2018.

Ainsley Maitland-Niles
Wants to play in midfield, has always wanted to play in midfield, and will probably always want to play in midfield. He turned down some really interesting opportunities for loans in the summer because he didn’t want to play in defence. It’s his career, he can do what he wants with it, but this sort of intransigence probably won’t serve him well in the fullness of time – as Sam Allardyce suggested. In all likelihood, we will probably end up selling Ainsley – another Hale End product – and it will be with a tinge of regret. There would likely have been plenty of game time for him at the Emirates with just a little compromise. Again, we should really be looking for £20million.

Joe Willock
A blockbuster loan spell at Newcastle has made Joe the talk of the Toon and I’m sure Steve Bruce would love to have the youngster in his ranks permanently. Frankly, if they put £25million on the table, could we afford to say ‘no’? There is no doubting Joe’s ability to score goals from midfield, we knew that before we loaned him out, but there remains doubt over where he fits into Arteta’s system. The reality is, he probably doesn’t and that’s why there remains a good chance we may move him on in the summer. It won’t be a popular move among Gunners’ fans but, if the money is right, we have to be realistic.

Matteo Guendouzi
Like Mario Balotelli, the young Frenchman does and says whatever he wants and acts as such too. His clashes with the manager lead to his move to Hertha Berlin last summer and there is nothing to suggest he is interested in coming back to north London and trying to rebuild the bridges he has burned. I think most Arsenal fans accept Matteo has no future at the club and, in truth, will probably drift from club to club throughout his career as he struggles to temper his ego. With a year left on his deal, can we hope to recoup much of the £7million we paid for him in 2018? We certainly struggled to do so last year but, if someone were to put £10million on the table, I think we’d have to take it.

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