Which positions Arsenal must improve this summer (plus other sales)

Non-negotiable transfers by ThirdManJW

This summer’s transfer window is arguably our most important in well over a decade. It’s hard to predict exactly what will happen, because it depends on who is in charge, but I expect Arteta to still be here. Whilst he does have his detractors, he’s only had one main transfer window so far, and that is easily not enough time to make enough changes, especially considering what he inherited. There is still a lot of work to do in regards to rebuilding the squad.

Although our new board and managers since the AW/IG (Wenger/Gazidis) reign have made the odd mistake here and there with transfers (what club doesn’t), overall, there has been a massive improvement in this area. AW/IG never actually performed squad assessments at the end of each season, hence our transfers for the following season made zero sense for the majority of the time. No better example than the Ozil transfer.

Why blow your entire budget on your already strongest position, especially when we were so deficient in almost every other area? When you already have a better player in Santi on your books, along with Rosicky, Wilshere, Ramsey, and the Ox, did we need another central attacking midfielder?

But now, we do perform squad assessments, identifying our weakest areas, and strengthening them. So, I have confidence we will continue this during the summer months. As we now know, plans are already in place depending on what happens this season, which means we are prepared for all outcomes. I wanted to take a look at non-negotiable transfers. Areas that must be strengthened, and players that must leave, no questions asked. It’s not just about improving the squad, but we also need to generate funds via player sales.

My best XI next season:

? Saliba Gabriel Tierney
Partey ?
Saka Smith Rowe Pepe

RB, and DM/CM positions are an absolute priority, especially central midfield. We are so short of quality and quantity in that area. Ceballos isn’t our player, and hasn’t done enough to earn a transfer for me. Which means we only 3 players in central midfield (Partey, Elneny, and Xhaka), and only Partey is good enough. I am happy to keep Elneny because we do need squad players, but Xhaka has to go. So, I think we need to sign at least 2 central midfielders. One quality signing for the starting XI, and another for rotation.

Then we have RB. It’s beyond me why Arteta persists on using Bellerin, when Cedric is far better, and even Chambers going on his Burnley performance. But even if Bellerin goes, we still need a quality RB, to match up with our left side. One can see the huge difference Tierney has made to our left-flank, and the chasm in quality between he and Bellerin. We need to match that on our right side. This improvement will also benefit whoever plays right-wing, because at the moment, players are struggling to form a partnership with Bellerin.

So those are the two absolute priorities in the summer, but we do need a quality 2nd choice keeper as well. I do think we should also consider another winger, because there are still serious question marks over Pepe. Another playmaker could also be needed given Smith Rowe’s downturn in form and injury problems, but unlike Pepe, he has barely had enough opportunities for us to form a definitive opinion on him. I would definitely like to see more of Smith Rowe, and in the centre, not out wide. Other than that, maybe another one or two squad rotation/young potential signings.

Players that MUST leave:

Kolasinac (I think his contract expires in the summer anyway)

Players that we could also sell:


What are your thoughts on the summer transfer window?



  1. I would say these 3 are key:

    – Back-up LB
    – First choice RB
    – B2B midfield that can interchange with Partey between DM and B2B

    1. I still think AMN would be a good partner for Partey in the midfield, both can defend well and support our attack. They are both very good athletes and can actually catch players whereas now we have Xhaka and Cellabos that couldn’t catch a cold.

      1. Then sell Elneny and Niles takes his spot. Xhaka goes to the bench or sold with Azeez promoted and Bissouma from Brighton to Partner Thomas.

        1. OMG Sean, my thoughts exactly. Bissouma is a must to partner Partey. Love this guy, he would do really well in our team and give us a really solid core in the middle of the park that has been sorely missed.

      2. I don’t know if you’ve been watching any WBA games but AMN hasn’t been doing that well. Passing is atrocious. We’d do well to cash in imo.

        1. I meant more as an interim with more important positions that need addressing first as we already own AMN. It’s also difficult to do well in a team like WBA in all fairness, I think quite a few of our players would look poor in the WBA team.

          I watched the Newcastle game actually, he did alright but looked a bit rusty.

        2. Agree Sean M.

          I’ve lost count of the times AMN 1) gives easy possession away 2) lets opposition players simply run past him into scoring positions (and this from his favoured(?) centre mid’ position i.e .his tracking back is abysmal.

          As for pace- there’s jog, and jog a little faster.

          With all due respect to say this player can defend leaves me speechless.

          I have actually bothered to watch Albion games to see how he’s doing – not good.

          I’m literally waiting for Allardyce to drop him (probably part of the loan agreement he can’t).

          M-N is like the golfer living off a hole in one for the rest of his career. A couple of decent games in a cup run of the standard I would expect from any player coming into the side, and suddenly we’ve got Roberto Carlos on our hands.

          This player has not made an impression under 3 previous managers, what have they missed ?

          There is a lot of sentiment surrounding Ainsley, being at the club since a kid etc – let it go, he’s simply not good enough for Arsenal Football Club.

    2. All I know/want next summer is that…
      Please sell/free Xhaka off from the squad then half of the problem of arsenal is solved honestly. Just too immobile, slow passes and lack forward movement. Gosh, even a farmer/hunter knows playing football than him.

  2. 15 players in that list….

    if they leave, we will lose our backbone/spine of the team

    as well as experience subs and squad players

    we are not going to be in top 8 for sure

    New players need time to adapt, adjust and settle into the squad

    we are suffering from 47m loss plus a 120m loan to maintain the current squad

    fans still thinks this is a Fifa21 game

  3. 1….new manager
    2.. No 2 keeper
    3…no 1 rb
    4..no 2 lb
    5.. Cm
    Sell…………. Runnarson
    Bellerin, kolas, xakai, elneney, Amn, Nelson, lacca, willian,

  4. – Decent back up LB
    – Midfielders to replace Xhaka & Ceballos.

    Guendouzi can replace Xhaka, and if Cedric can cement his spot as 1st-choice RB then I guess that leaves the main priorities as a top-quality midfielder to partner Partey and a 2nd-choice left back.

    A good striker wouldn’t hurt but we already have Martinelli for that so we just need to see him used more.

    1. Not sure we’d want to rely on Martinelli being the answer at CF. He can score a lot of goals but he’s mainly been played from the wing and is a similar type of player to Auba in my view. Not saying he can’t play there but we need something different, someone who can compete psychically with defenders as Laca does (ideally someone a bit bigger and more imposing than Laca, though)

  5. – A new LB to compete with Tierney, because Kolasinac would likely leave since his contract will expire in 2022

    – A new CF if Lacazette is sold

    – A new left-footed DM to compete with Xhaka

    1. What about a DM that can use both feet as all good DMs should instead of narrowing our options to only left footed players?

      1. A true ambidextrous DM is very rare, so we better look for a left-footed one if we keep using a double-pivot formation

  6. If we do not win the EL trophy Arteta may be shown the door.
    So what would a new manager do?
    If we do qualify Champions League what do we do then?
    Upgrade or have faith in who we have?
    My only certainties to stay are
    Players who will stay because no club will pay their salaries as well as a large enough transfer fee include
    We also need quota players.
    Holding Chambers Willock
    Niles Nketiah Nelson
    Ryan decent so retain.
    Let go
    Return Ceballos.
    Keep Odegaard on loan.
    Sell Niles 15m Nketiah 10m.
    Buy a decent AM
    Loan a decent LB.
    Leno Ryan
    Bellerin Cedric Tierney LB
    Holding Saliba Mari Chambers
    Xhaka Partey Torreira
    Odegaard Smith-Rowe AM Willock
    Saka Guendouzi Nelson Willian
    Pepe Aubameyang Lacazette Martinelli

  7. Nketiah, Nelson, willock are as good as Rowe only that are not chance to play. Rowe was not given chance to play till the other day. These young players are the one played Europa without a loss. They are the core of arsenal maybe we can but only 2 full backs no.2 and no. 3. I agree Bellerin is out of this league same to xhaka and Willian, Elneny too. Niles can play well at midfield with partey. He’s (niles) very quick to recover balls like kante does at Chelsea. Nelson is quicker and direct than Willian. Nketiah can match the number of goals lacazette scored per season then bring Balogun..sell Laca. Pepe should stay…playing number 11 he’s good and saka at 7. Or Martinelli 11 the pepe 7 saka 10. Auba is aging we should look at Nketiah or Balogun. Buying these other strikers will not help..good examples are Willian and pepe and laca they are not scoring for a good number..Willian is zero, pepe 5 laca 9 just average.

    1. Nketiah – 13 apps last season, 14 this
      Willock – 29 last season, 7 this
      Nelson – 17 last season, 2 this

      These players have been given a lot of opportunities with the possible exception of Nelson. None have shown enough quality to merit being close to the first team.

    2. why hype these players nelson, willock and nketiah. they have been afforded many chances. Saka did not need many games to show what he can add to the team. you want good results with mediocore players

  8. Start with a new experienced manager that’s knows how to set up a team not a novice that is clearly out of his depth then start the clear out do not trust Arteta with this otherwise we will be in even more trouble next season if we allow things to continue the way they are at present!!

    1. “I’ve made my views clear on Arteta so not going to keep repeating myself”

      That lasted long, 4-5 hours 👍

  9. We should show arteta the door first let him go and coach a small team I think arsenal is too big for him now, maybe in future he can come back,

  10. No need to talk about an experienced coach cos no top coach will accept kroenke’s offer. Change owners first.

  11. Xhaka sold > Koopmeiners in
    Lacazette sold > Edouard/Toney in
    Elneny sold > De Paul in
    Luiz gone > Saliba in
    Emi Buendia to replace Ödegaard/Nelson

    Azeez and hopefully Balogun promoted. Nketiah and AMN sold.

    Ceballos and Ödegaard back to RM.

    Rui Silva and Mitchell as free, back up GK and LB.

  12. Would love a clear out at Arsenal starting with Hector (+£25m), Soares competes with NewRB(-£20m)is bought to compete.

    Back up LB to cover Teirney (-£15m)

    Next Luiz and Kolasnic both leave on a free with Dino & Saliba coming back into the fold. Save on wages and fees for new players.
    CBs – Saliba, Gabriel, Mari, Dino and Rob.

    Midfield we need to sell Lucas Torreira (+£20m), Matteo Guendouzi (+£20m), Elneny (+£7m) and Possibly Xhaka (+£23m). Promote Azeez to take Elnenys spot, Niles & Willock to take on the 1st 2 mentioned roles & a new signing like Bissouma (-£30m) to Partner Partey.

    Smithrowe is all we have for creating and Odegaard will go back to Madrid with Danny unless a season long loan comes into play for Martin to us.

    Up top Willian (+£5m), Laca (+£22m) & Eddie (loan) need to be moved on. A new attacker (+£30m) bought to replace Laca, promote Moller & Bolugun and let Nelson have a go for Willian as he couldn’t do any worse tbh.

    Saka, Pepe, Martinelli & Auba (Capt) with a new signing backed up by the young guns promoted.

    Since we are in the minus money wise we need to be clever and get rid of a host on underperfomers we cant carry as we arnt in the best position on all fronts.

    That’s a hell of alot of work to be done after all the work in January. What a clear out of Mikel and Edu succeed.

    1. Well said promote youth, clear big earners. Willian,xhaka, Luiz, elneny.. unai used torreira n guenduzi first season are where performing good till Torreira got injured then he moved him to no.8 which was a big gamble

  13. You have listed 5 x HG players for sale??? so based on this you obviously know nothing about football rules and so your article is flawed really as that’s just not possible

    Xhaka is a good player and is better than Elneny so why keep Elneny who does nothing in my opinion going forward or backwards and sell your second best midfielder. AMN is a good rotation option in midfield also as he is proving in his loan spell with WBA. Willock is not showing much in Newcastle and doesn’t suit Arteta’s style of football so not sure he is going to make the grade long term. Another loan next season might be better for him.

    I see it as this. Arsenal need 1 x quality midfielder to compete and rotate with Xhaka and Partey, they need 1 x striker with hold up play qualities, 1 x right back who offers same qualities as Tierney and a solid backup/competition for Tierney.
    The players that can generate money from sales to help us achieve this are Mavropanos, elneny, Chambers, torreira, gendouzi and maybe Lacazette depending on his contract position in summer. Odegaard is not the answer for AMC position and he is too small, slow and weak for the league so dont want him this summer. Cabellos is also too slow and weak for midfield so he can go back. He has not done enough after two full seasons to warrant an offer. What’s worse for him is he has shown himself to not be good enough for Real Madrid either so they wont keep him.

    As far as transfer I would like to see. I want to see arsenal go for maybe Bissouma from Brighton to play beside partey in midfield and then go for tariq lamptey at the same time for the right back position. two great players with great potential to be better in a more passing based team. If we had real ambition we would try for Grealish but don’t see that happening. I think ESR is the future in AMC position and competition for him is needed.

    Then after three or four key signings for important positions, Lets look to the club internally for our future. Its time to give Reiss Nelson another loan and this time to a premier league team for a full season. Lets see if he can cut it playing week after week steady and if not then we move him on. I get tired of watching arsenal persist with players who ultimately wont make it. Denilson was a great example of that if you remember him. Lets get two or three youngsters up from u23 and U18 squad to senior level and try and mould a future HG talent team from within the club. A team that grow up together win together.

    Who would I promote? I think Azeez is going to be a great player for arsenal, Ben cotrell is also potentially great player in midfield. Nikolaj moller is a great striker prospect and the small highlights I have seen show me what I think arsenal miss most as a plan B sometimes. A tall strong striker who plays with his back to goal and links well with wingers and AMC. These strikers are good options to beat a low block which we have faced a lot this year when we constantly pump cross after cross in to nobody in the box. Balogun is probably going to leave at this stage but we have Tyreek Jon Jules coming up and he is another striker who is proving to be just as good so I say why worry about players who wont commit and bring on the next great gem to replace. Omari Hutchinson is really exciting on the wings and he could shine on a loan next year in championship maybe. A good way to prove himself capable and strong enough for the premier league. Lets Get these youngsters in and around first team squad or out on loan early and give them more experience to help them develop stronger and better within the senior team.

  14. Great shout from everyone about a new LB to challenge Tierney. I completely forgot to mention that in my article.

  15. Some fans are living in a fantasy football world I’m afraid.The reality is that professional football is not immune from the economic impact of the Pandemic and it is likely to take 2/3 years before any normality returns to the transfer market..In the real world how do you manage to sell the likes of Willian and Xhaka and other overpaid mediocre players?The answer is, with great difficulty.In these circumstances,the number of players we bring in is dependant on the number we can sell, rather than loan out.In the present financial climate it is a matter of prioritising until cash is raised from one source of another.In my opinion our priorities should lie in bringing in a deputy for Tierney and two midfielders on the assumption that Ceballos and Odegaard will return to their parent Club.Before his latest aberration I was keen to sell Xhaka, for we desperately need more athleticism and pace in midfield to assist Partey.Ideally I would love upgrades in various other positions but there is no point in adding to our shopping list when we do not have the cash to do so.

    1. You are quite right.As already mentioned we posted a loss of 47.8 million(19/20) which I would expect to be more in 20/21 and have to repay the 120million loan to the government. Some of the money, that some on here think we could get for players, is pure fantasy. Of course once again some think that player can be sold just like that. Contracts and the players consent also need to be respected. Some of the players that are mentioned as targets in the summer window would not come to Arsenal anyway, they would have better offers elsewhere. Perhaps Kroenke will pay up the loan, as under the rules regarding losses he may have to put up some cash.

  16. I think
    RB=Tariq Lamptey 20yrs Tariq Lamptey has more than a 75% success rate in tackles but adds more value going forward. His pace and delivery often makes him a de-facto right wing-back. Or Timothy Castagne at Leicester or May be Matty cash at Aston villa.
    LB= Jordan Amavi
    26-year-old Amavi is available on a free transfer this summer and the Marseille defender has been heavily linked with a move away from France.
    CF=Odsonne Edouard (Celtic) what astory could be when he comes and the competition gets sour. Lacazette and Aubemayang must stay to compete.
    CM: Dominik Szoboszlai (Red Bull Salzburg)/ Sandro Tonali (AC Milan)
    Described as the new Andrea Pirlo./Houssem Aouar (Lyon)
    Houssem Aouar was one of the most.
    We must retain Odegaard to compete with Smithrowe.
    Sells I agree with you but Take away Pepe and Lacazette from that list.
    This club need quality and young talented planters like I’ve listed up.

    1. This odsonne edouardo he can’t boss out premier league defenders..we got balogun and nketiah. Mf we got niles, torreira n guenduzi these players are good its coach having personal differences. We need full back 2 and 3 .

  17. As i read you wrote down that rosicky was a better n10 than Özil at this time, i stopped to read the article …

    1. I didn’t say at all, so you are a lair. I expect your apology. Maybe you need to start reading properly before opening your mouth.

  18. Good atricle TMJW but most of your perfectly sensible suggestions are just not going to happen for lack of money. My own take is that I am desperately keen to lose BELLERIN, XHAKA and ELNENY, all of whom are way below the standard we need to much improve.

    Elneny has only ever been a bit part, back up player and for good reason, as he is no good! Bellerin has managed to convince a minority of Gooners that being a good person makes him a good player too. But the rest of us know that it does not work like that and he too is rank poor and getting worse as the years roll by. Xhakas main fault is that he plays for us; if he played for Spurs ,then I’d love him to stay, THERE!
    In practice, the almost certin fact tht we will not have to play in Europa next season clears the way for a smaller squad being enough, thus saving wages and ensuring that we CANNOT pick players of the woeful standard of those I list above.

    So it boils down to how do we better replace BELLERIN and XHAKA without sufficient money. Well, Cedric and Chambers are both better than Bellerin and though neither one is the desired choice, we may well end up with them both sharing the RB position.
    Xhaka is therefore the KEY position where we badly need to import a mobile, speedy and reliable person instead and that will cost money . It all comes down to whether or not we manage to PROPERLY replace him and on that outcome I believe any serious top four challenge next season may well depend.

    1. Good points but I think Arsenal need at least 3 transfer Windows to get the right players n sell the players as well.

      Also do not forget new players need time and chemistry to fit in just like Partey. So definitely can’t sell all at one shot. It will disrupt the team.

  19. Do bear in mind we are only allowed 17 non home grown players in the squad so if we’re selling any of Bellerin (home grown), Holding, Chambers, Nketiah, Nelson, Willock or Maitland-Niles we will need to replace them with English / home grown players.

    Going back to the original post, don’t see us selling Xhaka or buying 2 midfielders, so likely to just bring in 1 to replace Ceballos.

    Gut feeling is we will sign Ryan permanently in the summer (similar to Mari & Cedric deals), replace Lacazette (given age, salary and contract status) and sign a back up left back.


  20. Can we try chambers in middle with Partey? Everytime I see chambers his ball control n passing is excellent. He looks more of a midfield player then defender. The position we need to go for in my view are

    – Midfielder, some one in mould of Santi/Modric type.
    – RB, As Bellerin is not good enough and his cover is not good enough to be first choice.
    – Goal keeper for sure as cover for Leno.
    -LB, we need cover for Tierney.

    If we acquire quality on at least two positions specially not compromise on RB and Midfielder then we can be in with a good shout next season for top 4 finish.

    1. 👍 Chambers won player of the season principally as DM, when on loan at Fulham. Unfortunately his opportunities have been limited by injuries, but there is no reason why he can’t tried now he is back fit.

  21. kSE must not sanction any more funds for new transfers until they bring in an EXPERIENCED Head Coach/Manager. Otherwise, it will be like throwing more good money after bad. Chelsea sacked Lampard, brought in Tuchel and with the SAME players – “no pre season and no transfer window”, Arteta’s refrains – Chelsea has been steadily moving up. Tuchel has adapted his style / formation with players he has.

    Arteta has had been destroying confidence of particularly Arsenal youngsters e.g. Martinelli, Saliba and Nelson in particular. He insisted on Willian! He plays just one good game out of 26 [against Leicester] and he is undroppable? Pepe was MOTM in that game and he drops to the bench in the next!!

  22. Leno
    Cedric… Saliba… Mavropanos… Tierney
    Partey… Ceballos
    Pepe… Smith-Rowe… Willian

    That’s the best lineup next season, capable of sustaining a title challenge, WITH THE RIGHT MANAGER ( MAURIZIO SARRI)

    1. No defender at Arsenal is better than Mavropanos and he’s a definite starter.

    2. Willian is a definite starter at Arsenal; remember “NO ONE WINS ANYTHING WITH KIDS”.

    3. Saka massively unbalances our attack because he has no definite number he plays and he’s left footed; no top team plays with more than 2 left footed attacking players and Pepe is better than him.

    4. The only two positions to fill are
    – Partey’s partner ; Buy Ceballos or Bissouma or Sandro Tonali
    – No. 8: Either trust Smith-Rowe or buy Trossard, Aouar etc.

    1. As simple as your sentence looks,it makes sense. Chelsea is yet to loose a game since Tuchel took over. When Lampard was sacked, we were on the same points as Chelsea. But now, the gap in points is wider. Does arteta even thinks there is crisis at all? I love arteta. I want him to succeed. But I can no longer support him. He is naive. The obsession about playing from the back, his decision to freeze out Martinelli. We are so predictable. Not getting results. We lost home and away to wolves and aston villa this season. We could not beat Burnley this season over two legs. We cant even make top 6. Something has to change. And I think the manager and the owner have to go at the end of the season.

      1. It is ridiculous to compare ourselves with Chelsea. They have a far better squad, and spent a quarter of a billion in the summer!

        I am not saying Arteta hasn’t made mistakes, but he inherited a dreadful squad, and has had to gut it completely. No way we should be in the top 4, or even top 6 given those circumstances.

        1. Worse squad than west ham ? No
          Worse squad than Leicester ? No
          Worse squad than Everton ? No
          Worse squad than Aston villa ? No
          Arteta loyalists clutching at straws just like the end of wenger days … we have a better squad than emery and doing worse … I was happy to see back of him and the same goes for arteta … favourstism poor tactics no style .. nothing to do with squad … wake up and smell the coffee

  23. I have never been a lover of coffee RW1 and I do not share your views concerning our pool being stronger than that of Leicester City.Anyone who has played the game and has a real knowledge of the game will tell you that only Tierney would find a way into the first pick back four of Leicester and perhaps Partey would be incorporated into what is arguably the most efficient and balanced midfield in the EPL..With respect ,before you spout out your anti Arteta propaganda you really ought to get your facts correct.You are of course entitled to your views but you run the risk of embarrassing yourself when you are proved wrong.Leicester , despite their horrendous injury list are challenging for a top six position, because they have better first choice picks than we have.

    1. Defensively I don’t think that’s true if we played Cedric consistently and dropped Luiz … in any event on goals conceded your alternative facts don’t stand up for scrutiny … we lack a quality number 10 for sure … but would take partey saka and ceballos over their equivalents personally … but xhaka and elneny would t get in their squads let alone starting 11 … on the attack on paper .we at least have more depth … aube vs vardy? … Barnes looks better than Pepe for sure … laca better than ianacho … so you are right despite their injuries they have a manager who can get more out of his resources than arteta gets out of his … so thanks for proving my point … which extends to the other 3 teams as well IMO …

  24. RW1, I deliberately excluded forwards from the comparison because I believe we are superior in that area.You obviously have never played the game if you feel that the midfield of Ndititi , Tiellemans and Maddison is inferior to any selection we can put together in that area.The Leicester GK is stronger.In Justin, Castagne and Perreria they have three right backs who are better than ours.At CB, Fofana, Evans and Syuenco are superior to our lot who are bereft of pace.Only Tierney is a shoe in for a composite team which by my calculations would contain 4 Arsenal players only. As for me proving your point, you are sadly mistaken.Leicester have a very able , experienced Manager in Brenden Rogers who I have had the pleasure of meeting when he managed Celtic .I do not know him personally but I know he is intelligent enough to recognise a good young Manager when he sees one, as his recent favourable comments on Arteta confirm.

    1. Opinions and not very good ones regardless who you’ve met … met lula recently doesn’t mean I have any special insights in to running a country !!! … ridiculous logic … partey ceballos saka should be a very decent midfield might be slightly worse but marginal … don’t have a Maddison type player smith Rowe clearly inferior … the defenders you list are no better accept right back … our attack better …

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