Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has four players which he is reluctant to sell in the summer transfer window, as per FootballTransfers.
What’s the latest on Arsenal’s summer transfer plans?
The Gunners have identified four players that the Spaniard would like to keep at the Emirates for the coming season.
£34m-rated Kieran Tierney, alongside £6.5m-rated Rob Holding, has had less game time than in previous seasons due to arrivals at the club, but Arteta values the depth they bring to the squad.
£16m-rated Hale End graduate Emile Smith Rowe has had a season plagued with injuries and is yet to start a Premier League game.
Stade de Reims loanee Folarin Balogun, also worth around £17m, is also unlikely to be sold – the 21-year-old has 17 goals in 28 Ligue 1 matches this season and could offer Arsenal a different style in attack to Gabriel Jesus and Eddie Nketiah.
Are these Arsenal players are too important to lose?
For Arsenal, squad depth has been a topic of conversation throughout the entire season as they embark on their title charge. It is clear that the Gunners’ squad is weaker than their challengers Manchester City, and this may become an even bigger issue with Champions League football next season.
It is believed that Arteta is reluctant to sell as he sees the quartet as important players going into the coming season. If the north London side were to sell Tierney, who has started just four Premier League matches this season, then they would be left with just Oleksandr Zinchenko in their position – depending on whether Nuno Tavares returns.
The former Celtic defender – who cost £25m – had been a key part of Arsenal’s squad in previous seasons, where he made a combined 49 Premier League appearances over the last two. A similar story can be said for Rob Holding, who has come into the starting XI to replace the injured William Saliba, despite the Englishman becoming a rotation player over the years.
These two defenders are key to Arsenal’s depth as they provide different options to what Arteta already has. Tierney is much more likely to operate much further on the left side than Zinchenko, while Holding’s aerial ability to help see a match through is second-to-none in the Arsenal squad.
On the other side of the spectrum, Arsenal’s two young talents, Smith Rowe and Balogun, have endured opposite seasons. For the former, he has had an injury-plagued year which has left him on the perimeter of the squad looking in.
When Arteta’s team are playing in the Champions League, Smith Rowe will be able to use the increased number of games as an opportunity to break back through to the starting XI. Last season, the 22-year-old was of utmost importance to the Gunners: this hasn’t dwindled due to injury.
The former Huddersfield loanee scored 10 goals in 33 Premier League matches that season, which demonstrates the calibre of player he can still become.
On the other hand, Balogun has had a breakthrough year under Will Still at Reims. The forward, who is ranked within the top 5% by FBref for non-penalty expected goals, is in third place for the Ligue 1 golden boot.
The dilemma that Arteta faces is that the New York-born striker, valued at €25m (£22m) on Transfermarkt, is unlikely to want to play second-fiddle at the Emirates – particularly when he has to compete with Jesus and Nketiah.
Similarly to Pep Guardiola at Man City, the Spaniard is set to not stand in the way if any player does want to leave. According to reports, there has been interest in Tierney by Newcastle United, which would provide the Scotland international with an opportunity to move closer to home whilst staying in the Premier League.
Losing this quartet of players would be difficult for the Gunners for different reasons, but even if they do leave, the Kroenkes should back Arteta further in the transfer window to replace them.