Monday, August 15, 2022

Outgoings and predictions

Yesterday, Mikel Arteta spoke about the need to trim the current Arsenal squad, and start the process of moving players on.

If the signing of Oleksandr Zinchenko is confirmed today, as rumours suggest, it would leave us with a squad of 31 senior players (without including young goalkeeper Arthur Okonkwo in that – even though he is listed on the official site).

There are obvious candidates to depart, so here are my predictions for their destinations and the prices we’ll get for them.

Bernd Leno

There is serious interest from Fulham, the German is reportedly keen on making the move and staying in London, but haggling over the fee continues. Arsenal want £15m, Fulham are offering £11m.

Prediction: This one will go through once we return from the US tour, a compromise £12.5m fee will get it done.

Alex Runarsson

Played last season on loan in Belgium. I have literally no idea where he might end up this time around, but the bright lights of Luxembourg, Polvania and the Democratic Socialist Republic of Karl seem feasible.

Prediction: He is let go on a free anywhere.

Hector Bellerin

He wants to go back to Spain, and his first choice would be a return to Real Betis. However, Arsenal want £7m, and money is tight in La Liga. They’ve already spent around £16m and have interest in Houssem Aouar, but his reported wage demands are a problem (funny that). How far can they go on this one?

Prediction: Without any real interest from anyone else (there was talk of Atletico Madrid but I’d be surprised), and Hector’s willingness to compromise on wages, he’ll probably end up at Betis but for a nominal fee, maybe around £2m, payable over the next 40 years (and the joke’s on us because in 40 years the earth will be a crusted, smoking firepit).

Pablo Mari

I don’t think it’s impossible that he stays around as back-up to Gabriel, but I think he’d be better off in a league which is more suited to his game. A slower league. A less physical league.

Prediction: Somewhere in Serie A for around £3m, or even an Eredivisie club for less.

Nuno Tavares

Zinchenko’s arrival makes him essentially third choice left-back, and in reality he’s far more of a wing-back than a full-back. There’s clearly some talent there but he’s so raw at times he’s basically defensive sushi.

Prediction: Arsenal will send him out on loan to see how he might develop elsewhere, but as a relatively low-cost punt last summer, unless there’s vast improvement I’d say it’s the first step towards a permanent exit.

Ainsley Maitland-Niles

He almost joined Everton last summer, and there’s just something about him that screams Everton again. Frank Lampard, Franking along like some kind of Frank, will think he’s just the manager to get the best out of Ainsley’s inconsistent talent, and Ainsley will think that Frank will play him in his best position. After eight games, in which he’s played right back, left back, central midfield, sweeper, inside 9, reverse 7, and introverted inside-outside left, he will begin to have doubts – which will then be exacerbated by Lampard’s sacking and the hiring of Alan Curbishley.

Prediction: The biggest sale of the summer as Everton throw £23m at us for him, causing Edu to drop his BBQ tongs on his foot and break a toe.

Lucas Torreira

Does not want to be at Arsenal, has been linked with clubs in Italy (although he’s running out) and Valencia (they can’t even afford to pay the players they have, let alone sign new ones).

Prediction: A free transfer somewhere just to put an end to this teeny-tiny saga once and for all.

Reiss Nelson

Scored against Orlando the other night, but currently resides behind Bukayo Saka and Nicolas Pepe in the pecking order. If Arsenal do sign another winger – as many hope/expect – that makes his path to first team football nigh on impossible. Already wasted a year of his career fighting for a place when he should have gone on loan to develop, and he’d be mad to not want to go somewhere and play regularly.

Prediction: It wouldn’t surprise me if a Premier League club like Bournemouth took a chance on him. They’ve spent big on unproven talent before, but a cut-price deal for an Arsenal Academy graduate in the last year of his contract seems low risk.

Nicolas Pepe

There’s talk of Newcastle being interested, and they could certainly afford a fee and not be troubled by the wage demands of a player who is on a salary commensurate with the £72m we paid for him back in 2019. The trouble is, they’re about the only ones for whom that wouldn’t be a serious consideration. Despite the fact I’m sure he wants to go, and I’m sure Arsenal would be open to that, I think this one is going to be a struggle, unless there’s real interest from somewhere – and at this point I’m not sure that exists.

Prediction: A late loan move + obligation to a Ligue 1 club right at the death of the transfer window as some club uses the desperation on all sides to get a deal done.

Plenty to do!

Right, let’s leave it there, and for your aural pleasure this morning, there’s a brand new Arsecast in which I chat to James Benge about pre-season, Eddie Nketiah, All or Nothing, and more.

Enjoy.

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