After a disappointing outing last season, Arsenal Football Club will be hoping to return to its glory days once again as they target a top-four finish in the Premier League this upcoming season.
The Gunners’ eighth-place finish, following the conclusion of the 2020-21 campaign is their worst finish in the league since the 1994-95 campaign. That year they ended the season in 12th position while finishing the season under the stewardship of Stewart Houston. It is no longer news that they have enjoyed relatively little success since the long-term French Coach, Arsene Wenger, left the helm. The French betting sites are always keeping a close eye on ‘Le Professeur’ after he joined FIFA as Chief of Global Football Development. But things seem to be at a low under the stewardship of Arteta.
The future of manager Mikel Arteta is a constant debate amongst fans and pundits alike but it seems like the Arsenal hierarchy has opted to stick with the former Manchester City assistant manager for at least another year. Arteta might not be the most experienced manager or the best option for the North-London club but even the greatest managers need the right players, hence, the need to strengthen the club.
In this article, we’re going to take a look at the current situation regarding the players at the club with the new arrivals, the departures, as well potential ins and outs.
After making his professional debut for the Benfica B side at the tender age of 18 in October 2018, Nuno Tavares made his senior debut less than a year later in the 2019 Supertaca Candido de Oliviera, as Benfica trashed city rivals Sporting Lisbon 5-0. Tavares also scored and provided two assists on his Portuguese League debut for Benfica, in their 5-0 drubbing of Pacos de Ferreira a week later which made a host of top clubs pay attention to his talents.
The 21-year-old left-back might have made just 25 appearances from 2019-2021. Thanks to the competition for starting left-back, Alex Grimaldo, but that didn’t stop Arsenal from shelling out €10 million as they hope to offer competition on the left-hand side of the defence, with Tavares expected to act as cover to the impressive Kieran Tierney.
Albert Sambi Lokonga
2021 has been a very good year for Lokonga. After receiving his first international call-up to the senior Belgium national team, the 21-year-old has all but completed a €17.5 million to sign for Arsenal. Lokonga might not be the huge transfer addition fans the club might be expecting. The midfielder who is capable of playing in holding or in central midfield has shown incredible promise since making his professional debut at Anderlecht four years ago.
The release of David Luiz was expected even before the climax of the 2020-21 season, as the former Chelsea defender began to show signs of attrition in his performances. Luiz was signed as a stop-gap for the Gunners. The two years he spent at the Emirates Stadium will sadly be remembered for the wrong reasons on the pitch but the right ones off it. The Brazilian was a favourite amongst teammates. Arsenal has also let players like Matteo Guendozi and William Saliba leave on loan to join the French club, Olympique Marseille. The departure of Guendozi seems to have gone well with fans of the club but that of Saliba seems to be a strange one. With no appearance since his £27 million switch from Saint-Etienne in the summer of 2019, leaving fans demanding for him to be given a chance to showcase his abilities.
Arsenal is reportedly closing in on the signing of Ben White from Brighton & Hove Albion for a reported £50 million fee. White, who was a subject of interest from Leeds United last summer, has been impressive since returning to Brighton and was a part of the England squad that finished as runners-up at the just concluded UEFA European Championships.
Elsewhere, reports in Portugal suggest Arsenal will be making an all-out offensive for Wolverhampton Wanderers’ Ruben Neves should they fail to sign Manuel Locatelli from Sassuolo. Locatelli is also a subject of interest from Juventus and the Italian international seems more interested in a move to Turin due to their participation in the upcoming season’s UEFA Champions League.
Arsenal is also believed to be in the search of a new right-back, as the future of Hector Bellerin remains uncertain. Achraf Hakimi was a potential target for the Gunners but his move to Paris Saint-Germain means they have to turn their attention elsewhere to players like Denzel Dumfries and Zeki Celik.
It’s safe to say Willian Borges da Silva knows his future at Arsenal is all but over. The Brazilian joined the Gunners on a free last season from Chelsea and looks to be heading for the exit after a disappointing season at the club.
Meanwhile, the futures of Hector Bellerin and Granit Xhaka at the Emirates hang in the balance. Both players are subjects of interest from Inter Milan and AS Roma respectively, but the current financial situation in the Serie A suggests both clubs can’t afford outright payment for their services. Bellerin and Xhaka are believed to be keen on leaving the club and it’s only a matter of time before their future is resolved.
Another player also destined for the exit door is Sead Kolasinac and a reunion with former teammate and friend, Mesut Ozil at Fenerbahce looks like his best option.