Mikel Arteta is a man on a mission at Arsenal this summer.
Following another eighth-placed finish in the Premier League season, there is expected to be a major overhaul of the Gunners’ first-team squad as long as the current transfer window remains open.
In terms of activity to help fund such a difficult process, that hasn’t quite happened yet as Arsenal‘s most high-profile exits – outside of David Luiz leaving on a free transfer – have been loan deals for Konstantinos Mavropanos, Matteo Guendouzi and William Saliba.
Although with six weeks until deadline day, things appear to be picking up pace at the Emirates Stadium with a few announcements expected shortly.
Granit Xhaka has already agreed personal terms with AS Roma and football.london understands that the Serie A club will increase their offer to £17m to meet Arsenal’s demands.
Meanwhile, Joe Willock and Reiss Nelson could also depart on loan with the former set to rejoin Newcastle United after his remarkable goalscoring feat during the second half of last season.
And it’s the decision to let Willock leave that may hint at what Arteta has in mind between now and deadline day.
It’s no secret that Arsenal have heavily relied on Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s goals in recent seasons, as there’s been an alarming lack of contribution from the midfield players in particular.
Last season Mohamed Elneny, Thomas Partey, Dani Ceballos and Xhaka managed four goals between them across all competitions, whilst the more creative players such as Willian, Emile Smith Rowe and Martin Odegaard managed seven in total.
Arteta is well aware of the problem, highlighting it back in December ahead of the January transfer window.
“It’s very clear. If you say ‘can they do it?’ it’s a question mark. Have they done it in the past? The answer is no,” said Arteta. “We haven’t had any goals from midfield, it’s not something that happened [just] this year, it happened in other years and is something that has to be addressed.
“To change the qualities and characteristics of players is very, very difficult.
“A big team needs players in midfield who score goals. They need central defenders that score goals from set-pieces to add to that.
“If you start to lose those margins, you start to lose points, you start to be away from the top team, this is not any science.”
Arsenal have already lost significant ground on the top teams so one would assume that Arteta and technical director Edu will look to address the issue this summer.
The arrival of Albert Sambi Lokonga was confirmed on Monday, but he’s hardly a renowned goal scoring midfielder and with Willock – who netted eight times in 14 appearances for Newcastle last season – set for a return to St James’ Park, it’s still a void that needs to be filled at the Emirates.
This may perhaps explain why links to Yves Bissouma have gone quiet in recent weeks.
The summer window is officially open, and it’s going to be tough to keep up with the comings and goings in and out of the Emirates.
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Whilst the Brighton and Hove Albion midfielder is one of the best in his position in the Premier League, he’s only ever scored eight career goals, with his main focus on the defensive side of the game.
In Partey, Elneny and now Lokonga, Arteta already has three players of a similar ilk which provides a strong case as to why Bissouma might not be the priority right now.
With that said and with Arteta’s admission in mind, ideally, Arsenal’s next transfer mission after signing Ben White has to be a midfielder that can chip in with his fair share of goals.