A massive summer of change and transformation lies ahead for Arsenal and manager Mikel Arteta.
After bowing out of the UEFA Europa League at the semi-final stage on Thursday evening, the Gunners’ hopes of securing European football for next season hang by a thread.
Ahead of Sunday evening’s Premier League tussle with West Bromwich Albion, who will arrive at the Emirates Stadium knowing they must win to avoid relegation, the Gunners are tenth in the Premier League table, seven points shy of north London rivals Tottenham Hotspur in seventh, meaning there is a lot of ground to make up in the four matches that remain.
Regardless of whether or not the club does source a route into European football for next season or not, big changes are needed, with both players needing to leave and new faces needing to arrive.
As revealed by football.london last month, at least four Gunners players are expected to be sold this summer, as the club looks to try and come up with ways to fund deals for new arrivals. Those at risk of being offloaded this are Matteo Guendouzi, Lucas Torreira, Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Eddie Nketiah.
Uncertainty also remains about the future of Hector Bellerin, who is open to leaving the Emirates Stadium if the right opportunity crops up.
As well as it being possible that those five could leave this summer, it is also highly likely that on-loan Real Madrid midfielder Dani Ceballos will leave the club and return to his parent club. The box-to-box midfield operator has spent the last two seasons on loan in north London, but is not expected to sign on a permanent deal this summer or return for a third loan spell.
With that said, a new central-midfielder will almost certainly be on Arteta’s wish list.
According to reports in Spain earlier this week, the Gunners are ‘close to an agreement’ with Real Betis to sign Guido Rodriguez, with Betis facing financial struggles and in need of money going into their pot.
Despite having a release clause within his contract of £69.5million, Betis would be prepared to sell the midfielder, according to the report, for £43.4million, which is still a considerable amount of money despite the decrease from his release clause.
Alternatively, however, Arsenal could look elsewhere to source a new central-midfielder, perhaps for a cheaper price and for a player that has the experience of playing in the Premier League.
The ideal candidate could prove to be Sheffield United ace Sander Berge, with Sky Sports reporting that both Arsenal and Everton are chasing his signature.
United will be playing in the Championship next season after a disastrous Premier League campaign, meaning it is almost certain that they will be forced to let go of some of their star assets, including Berge.
Initially, the release clause within the 23-year-old’s contract at Bramall Lane stood at £45million. Following relegation, however, that has decreased by £10million, meaning the Gunners could sign him for £35million this summer if they were to hold a heavy interest.
And should the Gunners pursue a move for the former Genk midfielder this summer, it would most probably be a deal that would earn the seal of approval from Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp, as he was believed to have heaped praise on Berge following a Champions League clash between the Reds and Genk back in November 2019.
After Liverpool had ran out 2-1 winners at Anfield, Berge told VG: “It was a great moment. You have a big smile when you receive those sorts of compliments.
“It is wonderful when such a renowned manager as Jurgen Klopp comes over and says something like that.”
Although Berge did not divulge in the exact comments that the German had made, it was later reported by VG that Klopp had said to the midfielder: “You are an interesting player, a very interesting player.”
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Since arriving in England in January last year, Berge has racked up 32 appearances in all competitions for the Blades, but it would have been far more had it not been for injury problems.
This season, Berge has been restricted to just 15 appearances in the Premier League, with a serious hamstring injury forcing him to miss three months of the campaign.
However, he made his return to action last weekend, stepping off the bench in the Blades’ 4-0 defeat to Spurs. He then started Saturday’s 2-0 home reverse to Crystal Palace, playing 60 minutes before being substituted.