Arsenal spent £150million over the summer as Mikel Arteta transformed his squad, but the Gunners may be set for a quieter January as the Spaniard’s overhaul edges closer to completion
The Gunners spent £150million ahead of the start of the season signing six players all aged 24 and under, with Arteta bringing in Benjamin White, Aaron Ramsdale, Takehiro Tomiyasu, Martin Odegaard, Albert Sambi Lokonga and Nuno Tavares.
It was widely seen as an attempt from the Spaniard to provide himself with a squad capable of being somewhat competitive in the short-term, but also one he hopes will develop into an unstoppable force in the future.
After a torrid start to the season, losing the opening three games and sitting rock-bottom of the league, Arsenal’s new stars are now justifying the faith that Arteta had in them and why he called for patience in the face of adversity.
Goalkeeper Ramsdale has been the standout performer for the Gunners this season with his excellent displays earning him an England debut, whilst neutrals are beginning to realise why Brighton and Hove Albion were only willing to part ways with White for £50m.
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The Gunners’ 4-0 defeat to Liverpool last weekend was a harsh reality check to a squad significantly lacking in experience, drawing to a close their 10-game unbeaten run which produced the entertaining, attacking football that has been missing since Arsene Wenger’s peak years.
And what is more, Arteta now appears content with his squad for the first time since taking over his former club.
The feeling around the Emirates is that there is something is special slowly but surely going on behind the scenes, so much so that Arteta seems reluctant to part ways with some of the last few deadwood players in his team.
The former Everton midfielder has made it clear he is not willing to let Mohamed Elneny and Nicolas Pepe leave in the January transfer window, suggesting that Arteta is happy to sit back and let those already wearing the Arsenal badge to see out the season and reach the club’s targets.
Speculation have circulated over the past few weeks that out of favour winger Pepe will be sold next month for a cut-price fee having failed to live up to the expectations that his £72m price tag provided in 2019, but his manager strongly denied such claims on Friday.
Asked about the potential departure of Pepe, the 39-year-old replied: “No, and it is not the moment to talk about that either,
“We are interested in Nico performing at the level that he can do.
“He had some really good moments since I have been here, some moments where he hasn’t participated that much, like everybody else.”
That revelation comes shortly after it was revealed that Elneny, who has 57 minutes of league football to his name this season, will not be leaving north London in January.
The Egyptian’s contract expires next summer and he has been linked with a move to Turkish outfit Galatasaray.
But despite speculation suggesting that Arsenal were preparing to terminate his contract to facilitate the move, he will not be seeking a move, according to his father.
“Mohamed’s contract with Arsenal expires at the end of the season,” Elneny’s father told Al Hayat TV.
“The club does not intend to terminate his contract. Him playing in the Liverpool match proves his coach’s belief in him and his abilities.
“It is difficult for him to return to Egypt during this period. The reports that El Ahly made a deal with him are completely false.”
Since his appointment in 2019, Arteta has prioritised getting rid of players past their peak in favour of bringing through young, eager talents – Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe have both thrived under his leadership.
Ageing players such as Willian, Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Mesut Ozil and David Luiz have all waved goodbye to life in London over the past few seasons, while out-of-favour duo Lucas Torreira and Matteo Guendouzi were offloaded without much hesitation.
Unless a player emerges from the darkness to knock on Arteta’s door requesting a move in the winter transfer window, the manager finally seems to be happy with his squad.
With the squad at his disposal, it seems Arteta has completed his overhaul at Arsenal – and now it’s time to work on getting the Gunners back in the top four.
But whether Arteta and his squad have the know-how and ability to achieve their aim this season remains to be seen.