Transfer news: Arteta reveals Arsenal’s January plans

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Arsenal transfer news: Mikel Arteta has revealed the first step in Arsenal’s plans for the upcoming January transfer window, and while it might not be the immediate, drastic outcome some Gunners fans wish to see, it is undoubtedly a (small) step in the right direction.

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Rather than spending wildly to improve upon his side’s horrific start to the 2020-21 Premier League season (13th place with 20 points, six of which were won in their last two games, after 16 games), Arteta says that Arsenal’s “priority” is to do a significant amount of outgoing transfer business. This will, presumably, lay the groundwork for future Arsenal transfer news — quotes from the BBC:

“We cannot sustain the numbers that we have in certain positions. There are some players that are going to go on loan and going to leave, and that is the priority. Then we will see if we have the right opportunity in the positions where we need some more help.”

It’s probably safe to assume that Arsenal’s collection of subpar defenders is one area in which Arsenal “cannot sustain the numbers” they currently have.

Sead Kolasinac (1 appearance, 90 minutes played in the Premier League this season) has already agreed a loan move to Bundesliga side Schalke — he has 18 months remaining on his contract. Defenders Shkodran Mustafi and Sokratis Papastathopoulos (3 sub appearances, 45 minutes played between them — all by Mustafi), who have just six months remaining, will likely be loaned out or permanently transferred at a heavily discounted price. The same goes for the club’s highest earner, Mesut Ozil (0 appearances, 0 minutes played).

Given how poorly Arsenal’s transfer business has been mismanaged in recent years, Arteta and Co., will have done exceptionally well if they’re able to remove all of the deadwood in the squad in a single transfer window. Perhaps there will eventually be money to spend once the squad is trimmed down to an acceptable level, but a squad like Arsenal’s — with the gaping holes and severe imbalance — won’t be a short-term fix.

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Between Ozil, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Willian — three attackers age 31 or over, and all either hugely underperforming or not playing at all this season — account for nearly 28 percent of Arsenal’s current wage bill. Aubameyang and Willian are each in year 1 of three-year contracts agreed only a few months ago during the summer transfer window.

This is a conversation — one about Arsenal clearing irresponsibly spent money off the books — that we will likely be having yet again in 12 or 18 months’ time.