Arsenal have announced their 25-man squad for the tours of Australia and China. What does it tell us about who could stay and who could leave the club this summer?
After a solid month of transfer speculation, Arsenal’s first pre-season friendly is finally on the horizon. Soon enough, we’ll be able to ignore the gossip columns for a bit and focus on good ol’ fashioned football.
Before that, though, we have to delve into transfer speculation for just a bit longer, as Arsenal’s tour squad has dropped some pretty big clues about which players are in Arsene Wenger’s plan this season and which aren’t.
Firstly, it should be pointed out that certain players have been omitted due to injury or being away on international duty. This is the case with Jack Wilshere, who’s recovering from a leg fracture, Joel Campbell, who’s away at the Gold Cup with Costa Rica. Shkodran Mustafi, Rob Holding, Calum Chambers, Hector Bellerin and Alexis Sanchez are on holiday following their own international commitments.
In terms of players who have been linked with moves away, the most notable names included in the squad are Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Mesut Ozil and Olivier Giroud.
Chamberlain has been heavily linked with a move to Liverpool after news of him rejecting a contract extension at Arsenal. There’s less speculation about Ozil but his contract situation is still unresolved. Giroud has been linked with Everton and Marseille as he’d believed to be frustrated with a lack of playing time. That these players will feature for Arsenal in pre-season suggests that moves away aren’t imminent.
That isn’t to say that moves can’t be arranged later in the summer. Such was the case with Samir Nasri back in 2011, as the Frenchman featured for Arsenal in China and at the Emirates Cup before he was sold to Manchester City. However, players that are expected to leave the club and aren’t a part of the manager’s plans are usually left behind so they can sort out a move. This summer, a number of first team players have found themselves in that situation.
Wojciech Szczesny, Carl Jenkinson, Mathieu Debuchy, Kieran Gibbs, Jon Toral, Lucas Perez and Chuba Akpom have all been excluded from the Arsenal squad. While fans hoped that Szczesny could yet have a part to play in the Arsenal squad, it appears a move to Juventus isn’t too far off completion. Jenkinson and Debuchy have barely featured for Arsenal in the last couple of seasons and have been available for some time. Gibbs has dropped further down the pecking order in the squad due to Kolasinac’s arrival.
Lucas was a shoo-in to leave as he struggled for first-team football last season. Toral and Akpom, however, will be looking for more playing time to continue their development. It should be noted, however, that there’s no guarantee that these players will leave the club.
A move away hinges on finding a club willing to take them. Fans will remember the struggle Arsenal had to offload the likes of Denilson, Marouane Chamakh and Nicklas Bendtner a few summers ago. Players who have not been playing, yet consume big wages, tend to have fewer clubs interested in them. This could well be the case again with Jenkinson, Debuchy and Gibbs.