When Mikel Arteta took over the reins at Arsenal, they were in a dire situation. The Spaniard has managed to improve performances and results since December, but there is still plenty of work to be done if Arsenal are to return to becoming a regular top four club in England.
The summer transfer window provides Arteta with the opportunity to get rid of the deadweight within the squad and build a team within his own image. So, there are likely to be quite a few changes made to the roster before next season.
But who will be shown the doors and who’ll survive the axe? We take a look at the possibilities;
One of the few saving graces for Arsenal this season, the German has been a reliable performer between the sticks.
The 27-year-old has expressed his desire for more game-time moving forward, which cannot be achieved at Arsenal as things stand. So, there is a chance that the Argentine might end up leaving this summer.
Held in high regard within the club, the 25-year-old should seamlessly slot into the second-choice goalkeeper’s slot should Martinez end up leaving.
The Greek centre-back is one of the most experienced players in the squad, but has hardly been consistent this season. He has just a year left on his current contract with the Gunners and has some suitors in Italy. Perhaps it’s time for Arsenal to cash in on him.
The German has been one of the most improved players at Arsenal since Arteta took over the reins. Has looked reliable and solid at the back. It looked very unlikely at one point of time, but Arsenal could decide to hand him a new deal, with his current contract expiring in 2021.
The veteran Brazilian has also improved since Arteta’s arrival at the club. He may be in the twilight of his career, but has still something left to offer for the club.
Injuries have hurt the Englishman’s progress this season, but remains a potent defender with his best years in front of him. Still has three years left on his current contract.
Signed on loan in January, the Spaniard hardly got a handful of games under his belt before the season was suspended. Arsenal have the option of making his transfer permanent and given the lack of a left-footed centre-back in the squad, Arteta is expected to bring in the 27-year-old permanently.
Signed from Celtic last summer, the Scottish left-back has endured an injury-riddled debut season. There is no doubt over his quality though and he should grow into a key player for Arsenal in the coming years.
The breakout star of the season for Arsenal, Saka has shone bright this term, be it playing as a winger or as a left-back. There have been speculations over his future with his contract expiring in 2021. Borussia Dortmund are interested in signing him, but it is unlikely that Arsenal would let go of him so easily.
Another player whose campaign has been blighted with injuries. The Bosnian is a good enough squad player and will have a role to play under Arteta.
The former Barcelona academy man has been a shadow of his self since returning from a long-term injury. But given the need to reinforce in other areas of the field, Bellerin will not be offloaded by Arteta this summer.
The backup right-back hasn’t impressed a lot in the season. But once again, the lack of funds and urgent requirements elsewhere means he will not be cut from the squad.
The former Southampton man was Arsenal’s best defender prior to suffering a serious knee injury. Is sure to stay, but will most likely miss the first half of the next season.
Brought in on loan in the January transfer window, Cedric did not play a single game due to injury problems. With his contract at Southampton set to expire in the summer, he will be available on a free and could prove to be a handy acquisition on a free transfer for Arsenal, adding depth at right-back.
The Uruguayan has been linked with an exit from Arsenal, and Arteta also seems to have not been convinced by his abilities, having preferred other options over him prior to his ankle injury. With three years left on his contract, Arsenal are in a strong position and could offload him for a sizeable fee that could be reinvested in the squad.
Not long ago it seemed like the Switzerland international would be on his way out of the Emirates. But he has redeemed himself under Arteta and looks set to continue at the club.
Touted as the midfield leader Arsenal needed for his heart on the sleeve performances early in the season, Guendouzi has run into troubles since Arteta took over, with the Spaniard unhappy with the youngster’s attitude. However, his potential is undoubted and Arsenal need someone of his quality in the side.
The Real Madrid loanee struggled to make an impact under Unai Emery but has shown improvement under Arteta. But the midfielder seems to be intent on returning to Spain, while Real Madrid’s transfer fee demand might also throw a spanner into the works over a permanent transfer.
The academy man has shown glimpses of his quality this season but needs to step it up and perform consistently.
The German playmaker looks past his prime and is entering the final year of his current contract. Arsenal have been linked with Julian Draxler and Nabil Fekir, indicating that they might be looking for replacements. And with Willock and Emile Smith Rowe providing backup in the attacking midfield role, Ozil’s time at Arsenal could be coming to an end.
The club-record signing hasn’t made the desired impact since arriving last summer. But has shown glimpses that he can be worth every penny if he gets going.
The academy ace has endured a stop-start campaign due to injury problems. Had put in a few impressive performances and his versatility can come in handy.
The biggest headache for Arsenal at the moment is with the matter of their captain. Aubameyang will be entering the final year of his contract this summer. Clubs from within England and abroad are circling to sign him up.
There has been little progress in terms of a new contract signing and with another season without Champions League football looming, he might not be too keen on penning a new deal. So, do the Gunners risk losing him on a free a year later or cash in on him now? As things stand, the Gabonese international looks closer to an exit.
It has been a difficult season for Lacazette, with his form and confidence taking a beating. However, he had shown signs of getting back to goalscoring ways prior to the season getting suspended.
Recent reports have claimed that Arsenal are ready to cash in on him as well, amid interest from Atletico Madrid. But a lot will hinge on whether Aubameyang stays or leaves. Should the captain leave, the Gunners might hold onto the Frenchman.
Verdict: Stays, if Aubameyang leaves.
The youngster has shown great promise in his debut season in England. Double digits in goals, impressive with his off-the-ball work, Martinelli has a bright future ahead of him.
Recalled from his loan spell at Leeds United and thrust into the first-team picture, the Arsenal academy man has repaid Arteta’s faith with some impressive performances. Set for a bigger role next season.
Feature image courtesy: AFP / Ian Kington