What has become clear in recent weeks to everyone is just how many average players we still have in the squad that need to be moved on.
This summer, naturally, some of those will leave on a free transfer. Whilst it is poor business that we have lost nearly £200m worth of talent in recent years with very little in terms of transfer fees coming in; we need to bite the bullet, get them off the payroll and move on.
Unai Emery had to be given time to analyse the squad. Work out if the likes of Aaron Ramsey and Danny Welbeck had a future at the club.
The last summer the majority of transfer decisions were made by Sven Mislintat. He bought in the players that emery had to work with. Over the next 2 windows, Emery will have more input.
Emery will have more of a say in the players, or types of players he wants, and also the players he does not want.
I have attempted to put myself in Emery’s shoes. Take a step back and consider who he believes will be in Arsenal’s squad come August 2019.
Petr Cech will leave in the summer. His contract runs out at the end of the season. We should thank him for his contribution and not offer him a new contract. The £100,000 a week that he is on can be invested better elsewhere.
Hector Bellerin is class act. Some have only now realised this since he has been injured. He should be kept. Long term.
With Aaron Ramsey leaving, we have 5 central midfielders going into 2019/20. One of which is Mohamed Elneny. We need to keep the Egyptian for squad depth – especially as one of those 5 midfielders if going to be our cover at right back. Elneny should only be sold if we sign a budget replacement (Ever Banega?).
Sokratis has been a good signing, bringing aggression and leadership at the back. He is not a long term solution to our issues in defence, but if we buy a young partner for him, they could buld a good relationship for the next 2 seasons.
Fellow centre back Laurent Koscielny is another who should be kept. If we buy a new centre back, it pushes the Frenchman down to 4th choice. More on the defence later.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan has not set the world alight since he joined us, and I doubt he will ever reach the heights of his time at Borussia Dortmund. However with Ramsey leaving, he is our 2nd choice number 10 behind the injury prone Mesut Ozil. Also provides width.
Sadly Aaron Ramsey is off. It is out of our hands now. His agent has messed everything up for his client. I would love it if we could come to a new contract agreement (the £150k Juventus has reportedly offered would be “reasonable”) however if feels like a decision has been made and the club are sticking to it.
Alexandre Lacazette. Class act. Keep.
It is unlikely anyone will be willing or able to take on Mesut Ozil’s wages, so we are stuck with the troubled star. His injuries are becoming a concern – for your highest paid player to miss 40% of games is too much. However, if an offer of around ~£30m came in, we should take it. You could get in a replacement for half that wage. The saving in salary and the £30m incoming transfer fee would give the club around £70m to finance a replacement.
Lucas Torreira. Class act. Keep.
Stephan Lichsteiner Added leadership to the squad. His time is up though. Would rather Ainsley Maitland-Niles get a chance as Bellerin’s cover.
David Ospina is an odd one. He still has a year left on his contract and could come back to provide cover for Bernd Leno. But talk is that Napoli will make the deal permanent. I woild rather keep then sell, but it is out of our hands.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Class act. Keep.
My Utility Ainsley Maitland-Niles is turning into an important player. Next season he will be back up to Bellerin, provide cover at left back, be 5th choice central midfielder and is an option on the wing.
Rob Holding. Keep. Class act. Battle it out with Sokratis to partner a new centre back signing.
Alex Iwobi. Keep. Home grown. Can cover all 3 positions behind the striker.
Nacho Monreal. Keep. Offer him a 1 year extension. Buy a new younger left back. He is then experience, quality cover.
Bernd Leno. Keep. Had a tough last month but is clearly a good goal keeper.
One player we need to cash in on is Shkodran Mustafi. We could command £30m+ for him. If we buy a new defender he is then competing with Sokratis and Holding to partner. He could find himself as 4th choice were he to stay. Selling him and Calum Chambers could raise £50m, all of which could go into a new top central defender
As above, the time has come to cash in on Calum Chambers. Rob holding has moved a long way ahead of him, and selling both him and Mustafi would be key in raising funds for a single, top class replacement.
Danny Welbeck. Leaving on a free transfer. Right time to let him go.
Carl Jenkinson. Sell. But likelihood is he will seee out the last year of his contract as there will be no takers on £45k a week
Emiliano Martinez / Matt Macey. Put these two together. Keep one sell the other. Will be 3rd choice keeper.
Kostantinos Mavropanos. Keep. Would be 5th choice centre back next season. Could move to 4th choice when Koscielny leaves in 2020. A year later he would still be just 23 and be in a position to replace Sokratis, and compete with Holding as a starter.
Matteo Guendouzi. Keep. Could become World Class.
Like Mustafi, we could command a transfer fee for Saed Kolasinac. He is not good enough defensively to be Monreal’s long term replacement. Cash in and buy a long term replacement for Monreal. Would raise around £20million.
Granit Xhaka has performed well since Lucas Torreira joined. They are amongst the best midfielder pairings in the league. Keep.
Currently on loan, Reiss Nelson has been performing well for 1899 Hoffenheim, although not a regular first team starter for them. Not sure if ready to be first choice at Arsenal, but would give us a great option outwide. Genuine width we have missed this season. Nelson, a new winger, Iwobi and Mkhitaryan would give us 4 options out wide.
Joe Willock, Emile Smith Rowe & Eddie Nketiah all have a role to play next season. Will become full time first team squad members instead of jumping between the first team and U23s.
That would leave us with 19 senior players and the 4 youngsters. Sales of Mustafi, Kolasinac and Chambers could raise £70m which can be added to our funds to purchase a new central defender, left back and quality winger.
So what will the squad look like next season?
We will have 13 non-home grown players and a total of 18 registered players.
This would give the club space to buy a further 7 players on top of what we already have, 4 of which can be non-home grown.
I doubt we would register a full squad as the 5 unregistered youngsters would fulfil the place of squad players. Realistically we have the space to make 4 signings
This would take the total first team squad – including the unregistered U21 players – to 26 in total. A more than manageable size.
Those players being sold would raise up to about £70million, and all those leaving (including those on a free transfer) would free up a further £30million in salary. This alongside
By my maths, that would give us about £85million to spend on transfer fees (amortised for 5 year contract duration) and salaries. so what could that get us?
Centre Back – £50m (£10m a year) / £150k a week (£6.5m a year) = £16.5m a year
Left Back – £30m (£6m a year) / £100k a week (£5.2m a year) = £11.2m a year
Winger – £60m (£12m a year) / £150k a week (£7.8m a year) = £19.8m a year
That in total would add just under £50m to our yearly expenditure. Well within budget, even without Champions League football.