Unai Emery’s transfer dilemma: Who will Arsenal offload to balance the squad?
As the summer transfer window draws to a close, Arsenal manager Unai Emery finds himself facing a pressing dilemma. With several new arrivals, including Nicolas Pepe, Dani Ceballos, and William Saliba, the Gunners now face an increasing challenge of balancing their squad. This has raised a crucial question: Who will Arsenal offload to achieve this delicate equilibrium?
One glaring area of concern for Arsenal is their defense. Though the arrival of William Saliba has been confirmed, the young Frenchman will spend the upcoming season on loan at his previous club, Saint-Étienne. This leaves Emery with limited options in bolstering his backline. The Gunners have already lost captain Laurent Koscielny, who controversially forced a move to Bordeaux, leaving a void in the center-back position. Furthermore, Shkodran Mustafi has struggled to find consistency, and Sokratis Papastathopoulos has been inconsistent at best.
In midfield, where Arsenal have experienced the most influx of talent and depth, the numbers need to be trimmed down. The arrival of Dani Ceballos on loan from Real Madrid has increased competition for places, especially in central midfield, where Granit Xhaka and Matteo Guendouzi are already regular starters. Additionally, the return of loaned-out midfielders like Emile Smith Rowe and Jeff Reine-Adelaide adds further complications to Emery’s decision-making process. A clear-out of fringe players or loan moves could help alleviate the overcrowding issue in midfield.
Upfront, the arrival of Nicolas Pepe, Arsenal’s record signing, has significantly bolstered their attacking options. The Ivorian winger will join forces with Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to provide a potent trio. However, this also raises doubts about the future of some current squad members. Henrikh Mkhitaryan, for example, has failed to live up to expectations since joining from Manchester United, and Eddie Nketiah, a promising young talent, could benefit from a loan spell to gain regular playing time.
So, who are the possible candidates to be offloaded by Emery to regain balance in the squad? Starting at the back, Mustafi’s erratic performances make him a prime candidate for a move away. The German international has struggled to adapt to the Premier League and has made a number of costly errors. With Koscielny’s departure, bolstering the center-back position is critical, and offloading Mustafi could be the most logical step.
In midfield, players like Mohamed Elneny, Carl Jenkinson, and maybe even Henrikh Mkhitaryan may find themselves surplus to requirements. Emery needs a more compact midfield unit, and with new arrivals and emerging talents, it is essential to trim the squad. Loan deals for Emile Smith Rowe and Jeff Reine-Adelaide could also be pursued to ensure they gain valuable playing time and further develop their skills.
In the forward line, Eddie Nketiah could benefit from a loan move in order to gain regular game time and continue his development. A loan spell would help him gain confidence and experience, which could ultimately benefit Arsenal in the long run. Additionally, Mkhitaryan’s inconsistent performances and high wages could make him a candidate for departure.
Ultimately, Unai Emery faces a tough task of balancing the Arsenal squad after an influx of new signings. Addressing the defensive frailties, trimming the midfield options, and making tough decisions in the attacking department will be crucial for the Gunners’ success this season. Whether Emery can make the right choices and achieve a balanced squad remains to be seen, but it is a challenge he must confront head-on.