With pre-season underway, Arsenal’s first team squad members have begun returning to the club’s training facility at London Colney.
On June 3rd, the first group of players were welcomed back by Mikel Arteta, as reported by the club’s official website. However, there will be some Arsenal players who aren’t around for the new season.
The likes of Kieran Tierney, Albert Sambi Lokonga, and Folarin Balogun have their admirers. The club may also find suitors come forward for squad players like Rob Holding. Meanwhile, Granit Xhaka already looks set for an exit. Then there’s Cedric Soares, Nicolas Pepe, and the rest of the deadwood.
These players clearly aren’t in Arteta’s plans, but are unlikely to generate much interest from elsewhere. There needs to be a concerted effort this summer from Edu, Arteta, and the rest of the club hierarchy to shed the squad of this deadwood for good.
After a surprise title push last season, big things are expected from the Gunners in the upcoming campaign. Trimming the fat off the squad, and bringing in new faces who can actually compete for a starting spot, will be vital if the Gunner’s are to maintain their positive momentum.
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The Portuguese full-back arrived at the Emirates Stadium permanently in 2020, following a loan spell in North London. Since then though, he hasn’t been able to impress. The 34-cap Portugal international couldn’t hold down a regular starting berth and was shipped out to Fulham on loan in January. Soares failed to shine in his limited opportunities at Craven Cottage.
At 31, and behind Ben White and Takehiro Tomiyasu in the pecking order, Soares needs to find pastures new. A return to Portugal may appeal, but Arsenal may have to cut their losses and pay off the remainder of his contract in order to facilitate a move.
Pepe is Arsenal’s record signing – for now at least. However, has hasn’t lived up to his price tag for the club. The emergence of Bukayo Saka has been a key factor in the 28-year-old’s diminishing influence. The Ivory Coast international’s lack of effective pressing ability has also made him an awkward fit in Arteta’s system.
Unfortunately for the Gunner’s, Pepe’s loan stint with Nice last season has done little to revive the player’s reputation. Arsenal are never going to recoup their spend on Pepe; now it’s just a case of taking whatever they can get for the forward.
Mohamed Elneny is never going to be regular starter for the club again. However, he is a valued presence in the squad and his long-term injury makes a summer exit almost impossible. The club will most likely support him in his rehabilitation rather than attempt to move him on.
In the case of Nuno Tavares, another loan move may be preferable to see if the erratic but exciting left-back can begin to make good on his potential. If he can, then Arsenal may fetch a decent price for the former Benfica man at the very least.