Mikel Arteta is facing “a big problem” if Arsenal do not qualify for Europe next season.
That is the view of former Gunners midfielder Freddie Ljungberg who has suggested that some of the club’s big players could question their futures this summer after a disappointing campaign.
Arsenal went into Wednesday evening’s Premier League clash against Crystal Palace sitting 10th in the table following Leeds United’s 2-0 win over Southampton 24 hours earlier.
Of course, 10th spot does not come with a place in the Champions League nor the Europa League or even the newly-created Europa Conference League for the 2021/22 season.
For the Gunners to be in Europe next season, they need to do their part by winning at Crystal Palace and beat Brighton and Hove Albion at the Emirates Stadium on the final day.
And then it comes down to hoping Tottenham Hotspur, West Ham United and Everton all drop points in their final two games of the campaign.
As a result, Arsenal’s long proud record of competing in Europe for over a decade is in serious danger and Ljungberg is of the opinion that failure to do so could spell the end for some players.
“Arsenal, in my opinion, as a club needs to be in Europe. Probably shouldn’t be in the Europa League, they should be in the Champions League,” Ljungberg said on BT Sport.
“So not to make it at all would be a big problem.”I probably would go as far as to say ‘will the big players want to stay’?
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“Do they say ‘I want to go and play in the Champions League – I am not staying’?
“If you look at yourself and they’ve been doing it for a couple of years and not playing Champions League, maybe it’s time they feel like ‘I want to leave and I want to try somewhere else”.
Despite failing to qualify for the Champions League, Arteta has been handed a lifeline that could save Arsenal’s season and continue their impressive record in European competition.
The reward for finishing seventh is a spot in the Europa Conference League.