Football Features

Keep, sell or loan? Arsenal transfer decisions for Mikel Arteta

By Muhammad Butt

Arsenal transfer decisions for Mikel Arteta: Keep, sell or loan?

Published: 13:30, 1 September 2020

Arsenal are on a trophy hot-streak, having won two titles in their last two matches.

The FA Cup and the Community Shield victories have lifted the mood around the Emirates Stadium and are signs that Mikel Arteta’s revolution is taking the club in the correct direction. However, the next step is sustained success in the league and for that, changes must be made.

Specifically, changes to the club’s squad. Arsenal have had such a shifting series of ideas and philosophies over the last few years that the squad is a mess of different people’s ideas for what Arsenal should become. It needs a strong voice to shape it: Arteta’s voice.

With Arteta at the helm, Arsenal have a clear and distinct style of play and it is time the squad reflected that. Obviously that involves transfers coming in but it also means players going out and the so-called “trimming of the fat.”

But who should be cut? Who should be retained? And who should be loaned out? We’ve had a look at the players at-risk of departure in the Arsenal squad (so discounting the likes of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Granit Xhaka and the newly contracted David Luiz) and come up with a list of who should be kept, who should be sold and who should be loaned.

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Age: 32
Appearances: 69

Sokratis has been nice for Arsenal, but that’s about it. Nice, but not wonderful. He was a strange signing back in 2018 but whilst he hasn’t exactly been awful he very emphatically has not been great either. With Arteta making his own plans for the club, especially in defence, Sokratis just isn’t what Arsenal need right now. Let him go.


William Hill Top-Four finish odds:

Man City: 1/33
Liverpool: 1/12
Chelsea: 2/5
Man Utd: 4/9
Arsenal: 3/1
Spurs: 7/2

Alexandre Lacazette

Age: 29
Appearances: 127

Alexandre Lacazette catches a lot of criticism but he is such a superbly rounded striker. His ability to press, link with team-mates and score goals make him ideal for the kind of football Arteta wants to play with the Gunners. Yes, he can make some big misses and when Arsenal fire on the counter through Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang he can seem superfluous, but as Arsenal get better he will get more and more crucial. Don’t let him go.


Mesut Ozil

Age: 31
Appearances: 254

An artist without a canvas is just a person who speaks nicely but doesn’t actually do anything. That’s Mesut Ozil at Arsenal right now. Tweeting #YaGunnersYa every week isn’t really going to do anything but drain the club’s finances. He clearly doesn’t figure into Arteta’s plans, so let this artist go and find a new canvas upon which to make masterpieces.


Lucas Torreira

Age: 24
Appearances: 89

Lucas Torreira hit the Premier League like George Foreman did the heavy bag back in 1974, but as Arsenal have changed, Torreira has become lost in the shuffle. He’s out-of-place in Arsenal’s midfield, and should be moved on. Perhaps a move to Atlético Madrid, where he would link up with Diego Simeone, would allow him to rediscover his true level and enable the mythic Thomas-Partey-to-Arsenal deal to finally happen.


Ainsley Maitland-Niles

Age: 23
Appearances: 101

Ainsley Maitland-Niles is not a world-beater and will probably never be a world-beater, however his skill-set is the stuff that title-winning squads are made out of. The youngster can play multiple positions to a functional level and that makes him gold dust to a side like Arsenal looking to rebuild. They absolutely cannot let him go.


Rob Holding

Age: 24
Appearances: 79

Rob Holding is a superb young defensive talent whose progression has been constantly blocked by injuries. A season away from the Emirates, playing every week in a lower pressure environment could be just what he needs to prove his fitness and get himself into rhythm. After that, Arsenal might want to take a chance on him.


Shkodran Mustafi

Age: 28
Appearances: 142

Shkodran Mustafi was a stud at Valencia but has very much been a dud at Arsenal. Despite moments of quality he is only ever one or two decisions away from a massive mistake and unlike David Luiz he isn’t a perfect stylistic fit for Arteta either. Sell him before he can do any more damage on the pitch.



Calum Chambers

Age: 25
Appearances: 101

Calum Chambers is a rugged defender who has occasionally shone for Arsenal. There’s arguments to be made about whether he fits Arteta’s style as well as is he even good enough? He’s still on the way back from injury right now, but move him on as soon as possible.


Mohamed Elneny

Age: 28
Appearances: 90

The Egyptian spent last season out on loan, but now he’s back in the squad and whilst he’s not good enough to get Arsenal to the level they want to be at, he’s plenty good enough to sustain them as Arteta chases midfielders to improve the team. Keep Elneny because he can fill in for now and if the likes of Dani Ceballos or Thomas Partey join the club permanently, he can be sold.


Joe Willock

Age: 21
Appearances: 62

Joe Willock is a youngster with a massive ceiling. No one knows just how good he could become, though, and a loan would help fix that. Playing every week with a real sense of responsibility to his team would allow Willock to develop at a rate he won’t be able to by only coming off the bench every so often. Then you bring him back to make the difference.


Matteo Guendouzi

Age: 21
Appearances: 82

Guendouzi should have been the future of the Arsenal midfield. A sterling combination of attitude, athletic ability and technique. Unfortunately these days the attitude is overshadowing everything else, to the point where Arteta doesn’t even pick him. Sometimes it just doesn’t work out. Get rid.


William Hill Top London Club odds:

Chelsea: 8/13
Arsenal: 11/4
Spurs: 10/3
West Ham: 50/1
Crystal Palace: 150/1
Fulham: 500/1

Emile Smith Rowe

Age: 20
Appearances: 12

The young Emile Smith Rowe is another one of Arsenal’s youngsters with an abundance of talent. He spent last season on loan at Huddersfield and did quite well, and he should go out on loan this season to continue his development.


Gabriel Martinelli

Age: 19
Appearances: 26

Martinelli was sensational during the 2019/20 season with an impressive 10 goals in his debut campaign. His teenage years were no obstacle to him influencing games and he will be frustrated that injury cut his season short. Of course it prevented us having to have a conversation about his position, as under Arteta he would undoubtedly play wide whereas the Brazilian prefers to play more centrally. So what’s the solution? Send him out on loan to spend a season both recovering from injury and also playing centrally to get fully into his goalscoring groove then bring him back to the Emirates and teach him the intricacies of Arteta’s system so he can become Aubameyang’s heir.