Arsenal could lose four out of contract players this summer with no buy options on three of those who came in on loan. Midfield looks like being the hardest hit area of the squad with Real Madrid duo Martin Odegaard and Dani Ceballos set to return to the Bernabeu following temporary spells.
Spain international Ceballos has spent two years at the Emirates, playing every minute of our 2020 FA Cup Final triumph over London rivals Chelsea. Madrid believe they can get in the region of €25m to €30m, according to our research, for the Champions League winner and former Under-21 Euros star.
Whether Ceballos can command that transfer fee based on his time with Arsenal remains to be seen. The rumour mill suggests that former Gunners boss Unai Emery is interested in working with him again at Villarreal despite already recruiting a number of midfielders familiar to English football fans.
Ceballos could join the Yellow Submarine which includes one-time QPR loanee Dani Parejo, ex-Leicester City holding man Vicente Iborra, former Arsenal man Francis Coquelin, and fellow French footballer Etienne Capoue, who played in the Premier League with Watford and Spurs, as engine room options.
Norway prodigy Odegaard, meanwhile, is in his fourth spell away from the Spanish capital. Like Ceballos, there hasn’t been an awful lot of end product in terms of goals and assists from him since arriving at the Gunners, apart from that Europa League screamer against Olympiakos.
Big things have always been expected of Odegaard. Away from the glare of a major European domestic league, his best scoring season to date came in 2018-19 with Vitesse Arnhem in the Netherlands. Best known as being a feeder club for Chelsea, Odegaard netted eight in the Eredivisie as Vitesse finished fifth in that campaign. We’d all take something similar at Arsenal.
Odegaard hasn’t brought that level of form to more competitive leagues during a stint with Real Sociedad and now at the Emirates. He looks less likely to have a future at Madrid so long as Zinedine Zidane remains their manager. After finally resolving the Mesut Ozil saga, recruitment in advanced midfield areas should certainly be a summer priority for Arsenal.
Without additions to the supporting cast, it is hard to see the Gunners featuring prominently in any of the next season’s popular betting markets. Those include winning the Premier League title outright and a top four finish, according to asiabet.org, which is something not achieved at the Emirates in five years. Arsenal are still a popular to bet on for or against all around the world. Before taking a punt on us getting into Europe, doing research of current form and trends is advised. Wagering on the Gunners reviving past fortunes looks a longshot at this stage.
Another of the big decisions Arsenal made surrounds the future senior central defender David Luiz. The former Brazil international was always something of a marmite character, wherever he has played. Luiz has only started just over half as many Premier League matches this season as last term.
At 34, it’s hard to argue with the view that Luiz is past his prime and this is the time to look to the future.
Much was made of Mikel Arteta omitting the promising France youth international William Saliba from his Premier League squad, something the Arsenal boss said he later regretted. Saliba went on loan to Ligue 1 outfit Nice this winter, a club that until December had been managed by legendary Gunners captain Patrick Vieira.
During this temporary stint on the French Riviera, Saliba is sure to have learned plenty from Luiz’s old Brazil international teammate Dante, who was a serial trophy winner with Bayern Munich earlier in his career. Saliba will have also shared a dressing room with former Southampton and Manchester United midfielder Morgan Schneiderlin.
Luiz was the most senior player at Arsenal, but Saliba is almost a decade and a half younger and, after joining the club from Saint-Étienne in 2019, deserves a chance to show what he can do in the Premier League. It’s thought that the deal to bring him to the Emirates cost £27m, more than three times the fee paid for Luiz in the same summer transfer window.
Australia goalkeeper Mathew Ryan is the last of the loanees on our books, having lost his place at Brighton & Hove Albion. How much pressure he has really put on number one Bernd Leno since arriving in January is open to interpretation. Arteta has been prepared to rotate his keepers in recent matches.
Leno and Ryan are almost the same age, and the latter has a year left on his contract with his parent club. As Spanish stopper Robert Sanchez ousted him as first choice at the Seagulls earlier in the season, Ryan looks as though he will be searching for a new permanent club this summer.