Arsenal endured a pretty dismal 2020-21 season as the Gunners finished in a lowly 8th place in the Premier League and must assess the option to sell players who are considered surplus to requirements. The only trophy they won was the Community Shield on penalties against Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool in the last season.
The Gunners scored the second-lowest number of goals in the upper half of the Premier League table as they finished behind every other side in the traditional ‘Big Six’ of the English top-flight.
Mikel Arteta needs to sell the players who are no longer needed at the Emirates Stadium before the new season starts and make way for new faces in North London for Arsenal.
FootTheBall takes a look at 3 players that need to be sold before the 2021-22 season kicks off in England.
The Brazilian was one of the standout players for Chelsea before his contract with the Blues came to an end at the conclusion of the 2019-20 season. Arsenal acquired him, therefore, in a free transfer in what was considered an absolute steal.
But the Brazilian has underperformed at the Emirates since making the switch from blue to red in London. Willian only scored a single goal across the entire 2020-21 season in the Premier League.
He only started 16 games out of the 38 games that Arsenal played in the English top-flight and was on the bench for crucial games with Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea.
He will turn 33 when the new Premier League season starts next month and he has not been able to pin down a starting place in Mikel Arteta’s team. His contribution to Arsenal’s game was found wanting in games against the other ‘Big Six’ sides in the Premier League too. Moreover, being a free-agent signing, Willian is reportedly on high wages at a time when pandemic has ravaged the finances of every club.
Therefore, Arteta needs to sell Willian at the earliest possible opportunity before the commencement of the new season in England in order to bring in new reinforcements or give more game time to record signing Nicolas Pepe and exciting youngster Reiss Nelson on the right flank for Arsenal.
The Spaniard had a lot of promise and potential when he came to London from Barcelona to try his hand at playing in the Premier league. But over the past season, his performances have been somewhat lacklustre for the Gunners.
Bellerin made a total of 25 appearances for Arsenal in the Premier League on the right flank behind Willian, but his contributions going forward were hugely underwhelming for a player of his calibre.
He only managed to score 1 goal for Arsenal in the Premier League, even though he supplied 3 assists. But if one looks at such numbers, it feels as if Bellerin has shortchanged Arsenal for the faith that was placed on him by the club’s board.
One thing that is still in the Spaniard’s favour is that he is still only 26 years old, but he really needs to step up if he wants to prove himself to be one of the best right-backs in the modern game.
Bellerin’s deputy Cedric Soares can play as a left-back too and has scored the same number of goals as Bellerin in 15 fewer appearances than him in the Premier League. With reports pouring in that Bellerin has refused to sign a new contract at the Emirates, it looks increasingly likely that he may be sold.
Arsenal can make a good windfall potentially if Bellerin does decide to move from the North London club as many A-list clubs will be interested in signing him, including Italian champions Inter Milan.
CHANGE OF SCENERY
The defensive midfielder was dubbed as the young Schweinsteiger during his time in Switzerland with Basel. He was also touted to be the best footballer produced by the Swiss nation, even ahead of Liverpool player and Swiss teammate Xherdan Shaqiri.
He arrived in London from Borussia Monchengladbach in the summer of 2016 after Arsenal backed out of a potential transfer agreement for N’Golo Kante. Over the years, he has cemented his place in the starting line-up, but questions remain over his future at the Emirates Stadium.
Arsenal now have a fantastic trio of defensive midfielders – Thomas Partey, Lucas Torreira and Mohamed Elneny – who can easily cover for or even replace Granit Xhaka as the deep-lying playmaker who pulls the strings in the middle of the park.
Meanwhile, Xhaka excelled with Switzerland in this summer’s Euros as the Swiss reached the quarter-finals of the quadrennial tournament as he led them as captain of the group.
His standout performance came in the Round of 16 match with world champions France as Switzerland led by an inspired Yann Sommer ousted Didier Deschamps’ side from Euro 2020.
He has rightly adjudged the player of the match in Switzerland’s duel with Les Bleus. However, his relationship with Arsenal has always been up and down, with the low coming when he was booed by his own club’s supporters. Although Xhaka came through that period successfully, it has always felt like Xhaka is fighting an uphill battle for recognition at Arsenal. He might need a bit of fresh air to find inspiration once again, with Jose Mourinho’s Roma showing firm interest already. Therefore, a move away from Arsenal is looked at as the perfect opportunity for both the Swiss and the North London club to get fresh starts.