Can Arsenal sell XI, buy 2, and have a stronger squad as a result?

Yesterday, I wrote a blog how Arsenal were likely to sell a full Starting XI in the summer, raising close to £150m.

The XI was:

The most predictable response was “how can we sell 11 players? We need squad depth”. And yes, you are correct, we do need squad depth. But that depth needs to be filled with quality.

We could, for all intents and purposes, sell the above XI and replace them with just two or three. And the squad will be stronger.

For a starting point, lets look at minutes played.

The XI above have played a combined 756 Premier League minutes for Arsenal this season. 7 of the players have not played a single minute.

Runarsson – 0 minutes
Trusty – 0
Mari – 0
AMN – 0
Pepe – 0
Balogun – 0
Tavares – 0
Soares – 28
Nelson – 103
Smith Rowe – 111
Tierney – 514

So straight off the bat, the 7 with 0 minutes could exit the club without having an impact on where our squad is now. And Balogun aside, I would be surprised if anyone would debate keeping any of them

Of the 756 minutes, Kieran Tierney has played 514 of them.

As I mentioned in yesterdays blog, I like Tierney. He is not a bad player, but he does not fit Arteta’s system.

Takehiro Tomiyasu (when fit) has been the preferred option as Olexsandr Zinchenko’s replacement over Tierney.

The Scotsman is a proper good honest pro, and wants to play first team football. I think even if Arsenal did not want to sell him, he would push through a move. And Newcastle is the obvious option.

Newcastle need a left back, Tierney would walk into their team, and they could easily pay us the £30-40m we would command. Move up north would also see Tierney be back closer to his family.

In terms of replacing him, if Tomiyasu gets fit I think the Japanese full back will be 2nd choice on both flanks. He will then be backed up by Lino Sousa, Brooke Norton-Cuffy and Reuell Walters.

Sousa is an exciting left back who has been playing in the “inverted” position for the youth team this season, whilst Walters is a centre back turned right back in the same mould as Ben White.

I still hold a candle for Norton-Cuffy, but he is more a traditional “chalk on the boots” full-back.

Could we let Tierney leave without replacing him? Our options would then be White, Zinchenko, Tomiyasu, Sousa, Walters. It would come down to Tomiyasu’s injuries issues.

That leaves 3 players. Cedric, Nelson and Smith Rowe.

We will not miss the 28 minutes played by Cedric this season. The only issue will be whether we can find a buyer – he has yet to start a game for Fulham in the Premier League since joining them on loan.

One thing is for sure, whether we sell him or loan him, we do not need to replace him.

That brings me onto the final two with minutes – Nelson and Smith Rowe.

After his goal against Bournemouth, I questioned whether 10 seconds of greatness was enough for a new Nelson deal?

My gut then was no, and what has happened since reinforces that opinion.

A few fans got caught up in the post-Bournemouth excitment, saying things such as “Arteta clearly likes him” and “he deserves a new deal.

Arteta likes Nelson so much that he has not started him in gthe Premier League this season. Just 103 minutes played. Last season it was just 19. Season before that 70.

192 minutes of Premier League football in 3 seasons. But some people think Arteta really rates him.

We take the squad forward by buying better than what we have.

Next season, we need better cover and competition for Bukayo Saka. Nelson is not it. Neither is Pepe. That means a new signing. And what then for Reiss?

He barely got on the pitch when Saka and Gabriel Martinelli were our only 2 wingers. Now we have Leandro Trossard and hopefully a new right winger coming in, how many minutes will he play?

Nelson is 23-years-old. It would make zero sense signing him up to a new 5-year deal on £60k a week for him to not play. That is £15million better spent elsewhere.

And for those that say “well lets just give him a 2-year deal”; get in the real world. Nelson would not accept that. This is real life. Not a game.

Finally Smith Rowe.

In yesterdays blog I spoke about how much I like Smith Rowe, but he just can not shake off his injuries.

Were he to stay fit and stay, I would be delighted. But I also think if a big bid came in for him – £40m+ – we would be crazy to turn it down.

Smith Rowe is cover on the wings and can also play inside as an 8.

Were we to sign a new winger, he would be 5th choice outwide behind Saka, Martinelli, Trossard and the new guy.

Inside, we have Martin Odegaard, Fabio Vieira and Granit Xhaka. I also expect us to sign another midfielder who will provide cover and competition for Thomas Partey at 6 and Xhaka at 8. That does not leave much room for Smith Rowe.

An offer of £40m for your injury prone 5th choice winger / 5th choice 8? That income would basically fund the Saka cover…

Smith Rowe is one of those that we will get a replacement in for. But that replacement will be someone who plays the duel role of 6 and 8. A certain West Ham midfielder springs to mind.

And if we need further cover? We still have Charlie Patino. And I have not even mentioned Albert Sambi Lokonga’s future in either of these blogs…and I forgot about Jorginho.

Finally Balogun.

He has not played a minute for us, and I understand those saying “give him a chance”. But I can not see how we can accomodate Gabriel Jesus, Eddie Nketiah and Folarin Balogun.

Remember, before Jesus’s injury, Nketiah had not started for us in the league this season. And we have since added Trossard as an extra option upfront.

So it comes down to Nketiah or Balogun. The double striker dilema I spoke about in December. I goes, one stays.

If you want us to retain Balogun, then Eddie must be sacrificed. And you are still in the same situation as above with us selling a striker this summer.

As a side note, I would also expect us to look at having Saka’s understudy being able to play through the middle. Arteta likes his forward line to be versatile and mobile. Martinelli is also a striker option.

So the XI above. We could sell them all and replace them with:

New central midfielder who can play 6 and 8
New winger who can also play up top
Potentially a new left back if Tomiyasu injuries continue

11 out, 2 or 3 in. And becauce we are buying so few, we can invest more heavilly and recruit a better quality of player.

“But that still leaves us short Dan” some will now say. Lets look at the XIs:

White Saliba Gabriel Zinchenko
Saka Odegaard Xhaka Jesus

Tomiyasu Holding Kiwior Sousa
NewRW Vieira Jorginho Trossard

Others: Hein, Walters / Norton-Cuffy, Elneny, Lokonga, Patino, Marquinhos

If we make the two big signings (DM, RW), we would have 21 senior players and 5 development as part of the first team squad. Plus Elneny and Lokonga (who the new DM would be replacing).

This season we have had 17 players play 200 or more Premier League minutes.

Adding a new DM and new RW who are better than Nelson, Lokonga and Elneny would strengthen the squad and replacing players who just do not play.

We would be retaining 16 of the 17 players with more than 200 minutes to their name, and adding a further 2 senior players.

“But Manchester City have greater strength in depth, and we have Champions League football”

Manchester City have 18 players that have played 200+ Premier League minutes. They have 24 players in total in their first team (including thier 2 back up keepers).

So what I am proposing above is a very similar squad size to City’s.

We would have 18-20 players that you would consider “senior” and would play 200+ minutes. then the 2 spare keepers and the younger players.

“But City’s players are better than ours”. Granted. But this is because they recruit quality over quantity.

Would Smith Rowe, Balogun or Nelson get near City’s squad? No.

We move forward from this season by buying better than what we have. And that means the likes of Nelson, Balogun (or Nketiah) and Smith Rowe get moved on for a Declan Rice, a Michael Olise and others.

So can we sell XI, buy 2, and have a strong squad?




2 thoughts on “Can Arsenal sell XI, buy 2, and have a stronger squad as a result?

  1. hans andersson

    Get Kane, Rice and Bellingham – and Arsenal are building the new Invincibles. Ramedale, White, Saliba, Zinchenko, Partey, Rice, Bellingham, Odegaard, Saka, Kane, Jesus (3-4-3). That would be the team to beat for the next atleast five years. A Dynasty would about to come alive.


    1. Arthur Cornish

      Not sure about Viera to be fair . Looks very lightweight I am thinking if we sold him and got back some of the £35millon we paid that would go a fair way to buying a better player . I would like us to buy from the premiership rather than abroad



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