Granit Xhaka is closing in on his Arsenal exit, with the midfielder now almost certain to leave at the end of the season.
The Swiss midfielder has enjoyed a rollercoaster seven years in North London, going from captain to outcast, all the way back to key contributor under Mikel Arteta. But with no plans to extend his contract beyond the summer of 2024, the Gunners are ready to cash in while they still can.
It is understood Bayer Leverkusen are leading the race for the 30-year-old, who could fetch around £13 million from the Bundesliga club. Xhaka has played a huge role in Arsenal ’s Premier League title bid, but is keen for a new challenge, and the chance to play under Xabi Alonso.
But he won’t be the only high-profile departure in another potentially transformative summer transfer window. With their bid for the title set to come up short, Arteta is desperate to mount another challenge to Manchester City next season – and will be backed by the club’s owners.
Arsenal are set to be in the market for at least four players, as they look to add the kind of physicality that has eluded them on the home straight. Declan Rice is their top target – but with a valuation north of £100m there is an acceptance that outgoings will be needed to fund their ambitious plans.
Arteta’s decision to make Oleksandr Zinchenko his starting left-back has put Newcastle on red-alert regarding the availability of Kieran Tierney. The Scotland international, while still a hugely reliable performer, is no longer guaranteed a regular berth in the XI, and the cash-rich Magpies would be happy to take him off their hands.
And while the decision to sell Tierney will be fiercely debated, Emile Smith Rowe leaving permanently will be even more divisive. The Hale End graduate is one of the most exciting products from the academy in recent years, but has recently found opportunities in the line-up difficult to come by – playing just 147 Premier League minutes all season.
Aston Villa have a longstanding interest in the 22-year-old, an interest which will only be increased by the presence of Unai Emery in the dugout. His sale would also be 100 per cent profit on the Arsenal balance sheet, as they look to navigate FFP requirements.
Reiss Nelson is another homegrown talent that could be moved on. The 23-year-old is out of contract this summer and is yet to agree to terms on an extension. He has previously stated that he would like to sign a new deal, but with the clock ticking down, his future remains uncertain.
Folarin Balogun has enjoyed a hugely successful loan spell with Reims in France, scoring 20 times in all competitions. The likes of AC Milan are rumoured to be interested in acquiring his services, with a reported valuation of £30m placed on his head.
And it’s highly likely he won’t be the only loanee moved on when they return to their parent club this summer. Nicolas Pepe, Arsenal’s record signing at £72m, has failed to ever live up to the billing and appears certain to be moved on. He hasn’t pulled up any trees with Nice though, and it may prove difficult to recoup even a portion of their significant outlay.
Cedric Soares was signed by Fulham on a temporary basis, but has struggled to become a regular under Marco Silva. With Arsenal’s late-season injury crisis, his presence at Arsenal may have actually been more beneficial, but Arteta is hoping to upgrade his options at right-back.
And finally, defender Pablo Mari has already agreed to join Monza in a permanent move from Arsenal at the end of the season after a successful loan spell with the Italian club. The Gunners will make £4.4m from the transfer, which Arteta will likely be able to use in the market.