In a recent discussion with a couple of people, a concern was raised about Arsenal’s ageing squad, and how we need to be in the Champions League so that we can afford to replace them.
Whilst being in the Champions League is important to generate more income, I am of the belief that we can replace the ageing players in the squad with little issue, and that replacing them is not a big problem.
Raul Sanhelli and Sven Mislintat will have a long term plan.
In their transfer war room, which only Emery, Mislintat and Emery will likely have access to, the future of Arsenal will be mapped up. What the team looks like now, what they want it to look like next season, 3 seasons time, 5 seasons and so on.
They might not have the names of new players already in the squad, but they will have the positions that need replacing.
Next to the players names will be dates of when players will be expected to be replaced. Their replacements might be bought earlier, but there will be “expected departure date”.
Pretending to be a German hipster who walks around with a man bag, I attempted to put myself in Mislintat’s boots, to think like he does and predict the departure date of many in the current Arsenal squad:
I have long been of the opinion that it will take 6 transfer windows to fix a lot of the issues in the squad. We have had one already. The above would take us through to the summer of 2021 – which would be the 7th transfer window since Arsene Wenger left.
Firstly this coming summer we are set to lose the likes of Cech and David Ospina. Both do not need replacing. We need to sign 1 reserve goal keeper.
Lichsteiner is unlikely to have his contract renewed. I would not expect Arsenal having to replace him, with Carl Jenkinson and Ainsley Maitland-Niles job sharing.
Over the next two transfer windows (January 2019 & summer 2019), I expect us to sign a centre back (long term Koscielny replacement), left back (long term Monreal replacement) and a winger (long term Mkhitaryan replacement). As above, Eddie Nketiah is the natural replacement Danny Welbeck.
Even before doing this exercise, there were the 3 key areas I am sure we could agree on that needed improving.
So that lease us in 2019 signing 4 players:
A central defender, a left back, a winger and a reserve goal keeper.
Moving into 2020, Koscielny’s contract runs out and I would expect the club to cash in on Mkhitaryan. I would expect us to sign another centre back – a long term replacement for Sokratis – who can then partner the central defender that we signed 12 months earlier.
Obviously depending on progress, either Rob Holding or Kostadinos Mavropanos could become a long term replacement for either. At which point we still need to sign back up defenders.
2021 is the big summer. It is then that I think we will let Ozil and Aubameyang go. Our two highest paid players.
With Arsenal only slated to sign a central defender in 2020, it would give us 2 summers (4 windows) from 2020 – 2021 to get in a long term Ozil & Aubameyang replacement’s – remembering that we will have a 30 year old Alexandre Lacazette in the squad still.
I have deliberately left Calum Chambers and Shkodran Mustafi off the list.
My opinion on them is we might cash in on them this summer, using the funds from them to buy a single replacement – who becomes Koscielny’s long term successor.
Also Elneny probably does not need replacing. We should not rush to let him go; but if he decides he wants first team football elsewhere the door is open.
So in summary:
Aubameyang / Ozil Replacement
Aubameyang / Ozil Replacement
Anyone else that leaves (Iwobi, Xhaka, Kolasinac) will simply be replaced as and when.
It would mean that in 2021, we only have Alexandre Lacazette, Granit Xhaka, Saed Kolasinac, Rob Holding and Alex Iwobi who were recruited under Arsene Wenger.
with a whole host of talented youngsters coming through (Saka, Medley, Willock); there is little to be worried about.
(edit: I did not add a Ramsey leaving date. but we all know he is gone this summer).