Mikel Arteta’s first full season at the Arsenal helm has far from gone to plan, the Gunners currently sit 11th in the table cast adrift from the thrilling race for top four, let alone top six.
Many of the Arsenal faithful can’t remember a time supporting the club without some form of European competition, but the Gunners’ chance of Europa League progression hangs in the balance and winning the tournament is the north London outfit’s best bet at securing more European minutes next season.
Arsenal’s appearance in some form of continental competition is vital not only for the club’s stature, but for it’s finances as well. Few clubs rely quite so heavily on gate revenue as much as the Gunners, who – like every other Premier League club, have been without fans for just over a year.
Though they managed to secure the signature of former Atletico Madrid midfielder Thomas Partey on deadline day, the true financial repercussions of the coronavirus pandemic are most likely to be felt this time around.
As a result, Arteta could have to part ways with a huge number of first team players to fund the kind of window Arsenal fans will be dreaming of.
January loan signing Martin Odegaard has already won the hearts of the Arsenal faithful in his few appearances for the club, but the Gunners will have to pay serious cash if they are to keep the 22-year-old on a permanent basis.
Though Odegaard is thought to be very happy with loan life at Arsenal, reports suggest that Real Madrid would not be willing to sell the Norwegian international on the cheap.
£40m is the most common figure being bounded around just for Odegaard, before tackling the number of other positions Arsenal need to strengthen in.
Brighton stalwart Yves Bissouma is another midfielder that has caught Arteta’s eye, with a close friend of the 24-year-old telling football.london that he would choose Arsenal over any other Premier League club.
One name that was constantly reported to be Arsenal bound last summer was that of Norwich playmaker Emi Buendia.
Another creative midfielder, Arsenal were thought to be put off by Norwich’s asking price.
With that being said, here are the first team players Arsenal could look to offload to fund their summer of spending.
Alex Runarsson – Purchased for just over £1m last summer, Runarsson has had a nightmare first season at The Emirates.
Originally starting in Europa League group stage games, Runarsson was barely tested – until he started in the Carabao Cup clash at home to Manchester City.
The Icelandic international was at fault for a number of City’s four goals on the night and has fallen well short of the high standards of goalkeeping Arsenal fans were used to when Bernd Leno would fight for the number 1 spot with Emi Martinez.
Hector Bellerin – Arguably the departure that would generate the Gunners the most funds, Bellerin is currently Arsenal’s longest serving player.
The right-back’s future at the Emirates looks uncertain and with just over two years remaining on his contract in north London, Arsenal could be keen on generating a fee for his services.
Recent reports have suggested that if Arsenal can get anything matching or beyond their £25m valuation, they would be willing to part ways with the Spanish defender, who has been a North London resident since he was 16.
Sead Kolasinac – Another full-back, the Bosnian defender is currently on loan with his former side Schalke 04.
Though the left-back has enjoyed some lengthy stints in the Arsenal first team, even scoring some goals along the way, he struggled to become a popular figure at the Emirates.
He has one more year left on his current contract once he returns from the Bundesliga side in the summer, Arsenal will have to part ways with Kolasinac this summer if they are to generate any cash for him.
Mohamed Elneny – An often maligned part of Mikel Arteta’s set-up, the Egyptian international has been at Arsenal since 2016.
In five years, he has struggled to nail down a regular starting role, and even spent a year on loan at Turkish side Besiktas.
Elneny’s contract situation mirrors Kolasinac, with the midfielder out of contract next summer, he will have to be sold this window if Arsenal can expect to get any money for him.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles – The first Hale End graduate on the list, Maitland-Niles has stood strong in his belief that his attributes are best suited to central midfield.
Arsenal have long disagreed, with the bulk of Maitland-Niles senior career spent operating as either a left or right back.
He is currently on loan at struggling West Brom, where he is finally seeing minutes in his preferred position albeit in a worse side.
Still only 23, Arsenal could receive a decent sum for his services by a number of potential suitors.
Wolves, Leicester and Southampton have both previously registered interest.
Joe Willock – A fellow Hale End academy graduate, Willock has actually enjoyed a relatively successful short career at Arsenal.
Regularly among the goals in cup competitions, many have questioned whether Willock has the technical quality to be a mainstay in Arsenal’s midfield.
The 21-year-old is currently on loan at Newcastle, where he has already bagged two Premier League goals, including a crucial late equaliser against Arsenal’s north London rivals Tottenham.
Lucas Torreira – Despite a positive start to his time with the club, the Uruguayan’s future looks set to be away from Arsenal.
Torreira was regularly linked with a move back to Serie A last summer, before being used as a makeweight in Arsenal’s deal for Atletico Madrid midfielder Thomas Partey – Torrieira went the other way on loan.
Torreira’s personal life has recently been marred by personal tragedy following the death of his mother, making him all the more desperate to end his miserable stay in London.
Argentine giants Boca Juniors are rumoured to be keen on his signature, though it is unclear whether Arsenal would be willing to lower their asking price for Torreira to end his north London nightmare.
Matteo Guendouzi – A divisive figure, Guendouzi’s issues seem to be more attitude related rather than talent.
At just 21 years of age, the Frenchman already has experience in three of Europe’s top five major leagues given his stints with Lorient and a loan spell with German outfit Hertha Berlin from parent club Arsenal.
Reported to have clashed with a number of senior members of staff, Guendouzi’s time at Arsenal looks to end on a sour note, with the Gunners keen on cashing in.
Alexandre Lacazette – Signed in 2017 with the intention of being an upgrade on Olivier Giroud, Lacazette’s time at Arsenal has been blighted by fitness issues.
It has been a common sight for Arsenal fans to watch the French striker be substituted around the 70 minute mark, as well as lacking conviction in front of goal.
Lacazette was the subject of interest from Serie A side Roma last summer, with Arsenal reportedly turning down a bid from the Italian outfit.
He has enjoyed a solid season in front of goal, but many fans deem him surplus to requirements and would like to cash in before his contract expires next summer.
Eddie Nketiah – Nketiah’s Arsenal career started with such promise, the young striker bagging a brace on his debut against Norwich in the League Cup.
He has failed to build on that momentum, most commonly deployed in the early stages of the Europa League, with more established names such as Aubameyang and Lacazette used for bigger games.
Nketiah was reportedly of interest to West Ham in the January window and considering he is England U21’s record goal-scorer he will have plenty of clubs keeping tabs on him.
Reiss Nelson – Nelson is another Hale End graduate staring the exit door in the face, occasionally failing to make matchday squads at times this season, let alone the substitutes bench.
Nelson caused a great deal of excitement among the Arsenal faithful when he impressed during a loan spell with Hoffenheim, where he bagged seven goals in 23 appearances.
Ultimately, he has failed to recapture that kind of form in an Arsenal shirt and has found Premier League minutes very hard to come by under both Unai Emery and Mikel Arteta.