Arsenal head coach Mikel Arteta has some tough decisions to make as he continues to shape his squad ahead of next season. Who is being shipped out? Who is coming in? Which loaned-out stars will return to try their luck in the Gunners’ first-team set-up? And which loanees are to be shown the door ahead of their deals expiring?
As the world of football remains in a suspended state because the of the spread of the COVID-19 virus, Arteta has plenty of time to mull over exactly what he is going to do with his squad. The Arsenal manager has been in self-isolation after testing positive for coronavirus but is already on the mend, he says. The Spaniard took to social media platform Twitter to tells concerned fans:
“Thanks for your words and support. We’re all facing a huge and unprecedented challenge. Everyone’s health is all that matters right now. Protect each other by following the guidelines. We’ll come through this together.”
Some will be more “together” than others come the end of the campaign, though. Decisions will have to be made on whether or not the likes of Shkodran Mustafi, Papa Sokratis, Sead Kolasinac and even Alaz Lacazette are to be retained or moved on.
Arteta has managed to work wonders with the squad he inherited when he took over the hot seat from axed Unai Emery at the end of last season. He has already brought in full-back Cedric Soares and central defender Pablo Mari so it’d be unthinkable if either of those were shown the door. One player at the Emirates Stadium with an uncertain future ahead of the new season is Dani Ceballos; the Spanish midfielder is on loan with the Gunners from Real Madrid and has probably show enough to merit a permanent transfer — but this decision rests entirely on who else is on Arteta’s radar.
Then there are the Arsenal stars on loan. Players such as attacker Emile Smith Rowe at Championship side Huddersfield, forward Henrick Mkhitaryan who is currently with Roma and Konstantinos Mavropanos at German outfit FC Nürnberg. Do any of these aces figure in Arteta’s plans? Offloading them could raise more funds for purchasing players he as an eye on, of course. As for William Saliba, he is one for the future and you would think he will come in and look to push on and start making inroads into being selected for the first team when he swaps back to north London from his loan period at original parent club Saint-Etienne.
As we await the long-term decision on whether our game will re-start this season or if the fixtures will be scrapped, Arteta’s hands are tied in terms of action. But it does afford him extra time to think. Arsenal fans will be waiting with baited breath to see how things pan out.