Arsenal Keep or Dump: Who stays and who should go this summer?

Arsenal appear to be on a clear upward trajectory, their points total and league finish improving in each of Mikel Arteta’s first three full seasons. In that time, they’ve done an impressive job of making the squad younger and shifting out some older players who were underperforming. They managed to do this while remaining competitive on the pitch and without the benefit of Champions League revenue (they haven’t been in the competition since the 2016-17 season.)

The challenge now is going to the next level. They have one of the youngest top sides in Europe so, to some degree, you expect improvement to be organic as players gain experience. There are areas where they can strengthen further, most evidently in terms of adding depth in midfield and some more firepower up front. And there will be some players they will want to move on.

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The priority at this stage will also be signing some of the gifted younger players to long-term contracts. This matters because it will likely mean the wage bill rises significantly and it may impact what they can spend on new arrivals this summer. And, in fact, they may need to sacrifice someone like left-back Kieran Tierney to raise funds in order to bolster the side elsewhere.

We agree they could use another defender; we disagree whether it’s in the middle or at right-back. It may come down to who is available. In midfield, Albert Sambi Lokonga’s return from loan can add depth, but obviously Thomas Partey, Granit Xhaka and Jorginho (Mohamed Elneny too) are older and the club need to think in terms of succession as well, so we’d expect another significant young signing there. Up front, what to do with United States striker Folarin Balogun, who impressed on loan at Reims, is a big question they need to answer as well.

Editor’s note: This is the second of a series of stories over the coming weeks applying the same “who to keep, who to extend and who to move on” approach to all the top clubs in the Premier League and Europe. The first in the series, Manchester City, can be found here.

MARCOTTI: He’s been very good, he’s a natural leader and he’s young: he’s obviously a guy you want to extend now. Sources have told ESPN that they’re close.

Verdict: Keep and extend

MARCOTTI: I would assume he’d want to go elsewhere to get playing time, with a view towards the U.S. national team and starting at the 2026 World Cup. He’s not going to beat out Ramsdale for the starting job at Arsenal, and I’m not sure it reflects great on him to accept a No. 2 role at this stage of his career.

OGDEN: He’s a decent back-up. You can keep him for another season and then decide.

Verdict: Keep if he’s happy, if not, look to loan or move out

MARCOTTI: He’s been a starter in his last two loans, at Leuven in Belgium and at Antalyaspor in Turkey. If Turner goes, he can be your back-up, though you’d probably want him to give him an extension.

OGDEN: You have to work on Runarsson and Turner together. Keep one or the other.

Verdict: Keep him or Turner, not both

MARCOTTI: He just turned 21, but he already has 20 caps for Estonia. I don’t think being a reserve is going to help him grow and he’s never had a season as a starter. Loan him out somewhere where he can play regularly and extend his deal in January if he’s doing well.

OGDEN: There’s a parallel here between him and Caoimhin Kelleher at Liverpool and how he unseated the experienced back-up to be No. 2. If Arteta is convinced, keep him and have him challenge either Turner or Runarsson for the back-up role.

Verdict: Keep and loan

OGDEN: It’s a no-brainer, they’re working on his contract. He was a key player until his injury.

Verdict: Keep and extend his contract

Verdict: Keep

Verdict: Keep

OGDEN: I’ve seen him be awful and I’ve seen him also mark Erling Haaland out of a game, like he did in the FA Cup … but I’d look to get a commanding centre-back who can partner Saliba. To me, Gabriel and Kiwior are squad players.

MARCOTTI: I agree that at this stage I’d be looking to move him on, I’m not sure you need to get another centre-back. I think Arteta likes Gabriel a lot and it’s still early to judge Kiwior. Maybe you spend that money on a natural right-back who can compete for the job there, knowing you have Takehiro Tomiyasu and Ben White who can also be an option in central defence.

Verdict: Move him to a new club

Verdict: Keep

OGDEN: I really like Tierney. I think he should be the first-choice left-back and I think he will be once he gets over his injuries. And you can move Zinchenko in midfield to accommodate him.

MARCOTTI: Good player, but I don’t think he’s the sort of full-back Arteta wants, which is why he only started a handful of games this year and why the alternative, Zinchenko, has an entirely different skillset. I think if you tried to move him on now, you would still get a relatively big fee that you could then reinvest. He’s too good to be a backup and you have a ready-made alternative in Nuno Tavares once he returns from loan.

Verdict: Split (keep or look to move out)

OGDEN: I think he’s been overhyped this season and you need someone who is better than steady, which is what White is. If you sign a new right-back, he can be in the mix at centre-back.

Verdict: Keep

OGDEN: I think he’s better than White at right-back. And he can play centre-back too. He’s been injured, but I would give him a short extension now.

Verdict: Keep, and add one year extension

MARCOTTI: He’s been a regular at Marseille this season and, while he was inconsistent at Arsenal before, I think he can be a decent back up to Zinchenko at left-back.

Verdict: Keep

MARCOTTI: He started almost every game for Birmingham City in the Championship, so there’s a player in there, but I’m not sure there’s any room for him at Arsenal right now. If Holding goes and you don’t bring in another defender, maybe the U.S. international can be a squad player, otherwise I’d look to shift him out on loan or on a permanent move.

Verdict: Loan or move out

MARCOTTI: He’s had a good year on loan at Monza, despite an awful incident where he was stabbed by a deranged individual in a supermarket near Milan. Monza would be happy to keep him and he is reportedly set to join permanently for around €7m after they avoided relegation.

Verdict: Move out

OGDEN: He hardly played this season, not for Arsenal and not for Fulham on loan in the second half of the season. He’s 31 in August, so they need to find a home for him.

Verdict: Loan or move out

OGDEN: He’s done well on the pitch, but he’s 30 in June and has two years left on his contract. There’s no reason to extend him now.

Verdict: Keep, but do not extend his contract

OGDEN: At that age you don’t extend him and it will suit him just fine going into the January transfer window with six months left on his contract.

MARCOTTI: He’s not a regular starter but he has contributed in certain situations. I think you can wait and see what role he’s playing next year and decide in December. If he’s happy and wants to stay another year after that, great. If not, he’ll be a 32-year-old free agent at the end of next season and can get another deal elsewhere.

Verdict: Keep, but do not extend his contract

MARCOTTI: He’s been injured a lot, but if fit he can be a solid squad player and, besides, he’s been out since January so I’m not sure there’s much of a market for him. Keep him around but, at this stage, wait on extending him.

Verdict: Keep, but do not extend

OGDEN: Sources have told ESPN he’s in talks with Bayer Leverkusen over a €15m move. But he’s had a very good season and is important to this team, so I feel you have to take up the option to extend him by a year if he stays, given he’s 31 in September.

Verdict: Keep and extend his contract

MARCOTTI: His extension should be an absolute priority, like Saka and Saliba. There’s a huge market for him out there.

OGDEN: They need to be very careful with this one, because he will have many suitors and he would earn massive money elsewhere.

Verdict: Keep and extend his contract

Verdict: Keep

MARCOTTI: I don’t think he has shown too many signs of development this year, mainly because he’s had very few starts. Arsenal paid €40m to sign him and he’s locked into a long-term deal. Unless Arteta thinks he can give him significantly more minutes next year, maybe it’s best to loan him out.

OGDEN: I think it would look bad to let him go on loan after a year when you paid so much to sign him. Give him another season to see what he can do and then assess the situation. It also depends on who they bring in.

Verdict: Keep or loan out

MARCOTTI: He hardly played in the first half of the season before going on loan to Crystal Palace, but I think he showed he can contribute. He offers fresh legs and depth to a midfield that is going to be needed next year.

Verdict: Keep

Verdict: Release at the end of his contract

OGDEN: They’re not short on attacking players, you can let him go on loan and see if he develops. He played a fair amount for Norwich on loan in the second half of this year.

Verdict: Look to loan out

Verdict: Keep

Verdict: Keep

OGDEN: They’ve been working on his extension all year and ESPN has been told it’s very close but until they announced that he has signed, you’ve got to be worried. I don’t see Saka wanting out, but he could get a £500,000-a-week contract from someone like Manchester City. Arsenal have to be ready to break their wage structure to keep him, because City have a history of raiding the club for players.

MARCOTTI: With a year left on his deal, he holds all the cards in negotiations. He’s a nine-figure player, or close to it, if he’s locked up in a long-term deal so extending him is obvious. The question is: what is it going to take? But he’s a local guy and has shown no signs of wanting a move.

Verdict: Keep and extend his contract

OGDEN: I’d extend him. He’s not going to play every week, but he does a job, he’s an extra body and they’re in the Champions League next season. He can be Arsenal’s version of Divock Origi at Liverpool.

MARCOTTI: Unless it’s a very club friendly deal, I think you have to let him go. I know he loves the club and he scored that big goal against Bournemouth, but he hasn’t started a league game since 2020, he’s 23 and I doubt he’s going to get better. If you’re going to have squad players, get guys with an upside.

Verdict: Split (Release or extend his contract)

Verdict: Keep

Verdict: Keep

MARCOTTI: He scored 18 goals on loan in Ligue 1, I think you keep him and extend his deal, if only to preserve his transfer value. He also gives you flexibility, in the sense that if Martinelli or Saka are out, you can go with Trossard or play him through the middle and shift Gabriel Jesus wide if you want to. Plus, he provides competition for Nketiah. I think you need three options at centre-forward in your squad.

OGDEN: Bring him back and see what he can contribute, but I’d wait until January.

Verdict: Split (Keep and extend his contract/keep and do not extend his contract)

MARCOTTI: He’s had injuries but he’s been OK at Nice this season. He’s obviously not part of the plan at Arsenal, but he’s on Premier League wages, not Ligue 1 wages, so I’m not sure they can find a club who would pay a fee to sign him. They may need to release him from his contract.

OGDEN: Agreed. They did it before with the likes of Mesut Ozil and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and they may need to do it again.

Verdict: Look for a new club for him if you can. Release if not

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