Friday, December 8, 2023

Mikel Arteta ready to let another first-team Arsenal star leave alongside Granit Xhaka

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Rob Holding could be another big name departure from Arsenal this summer.

‌Gunners defender Holding, 27, is a hugely popular member of the squad and has stepped in to play a part in their title push this season. However, Arsenal are looking to strengthen that area and bring in back-up and competition, especially on the right to step in for William Saliba when needed.

That could spark interest in Holding and he could be allowed to move if he wants more game time. Holding has been at the Emirates for seven years and did get to the brink of an England call-up a couple of years ago. It would be an emotional departure as he is so highly thought of at the club and by his teammates.

Granit Xhaka is wanted by Bayer Leverkusen this summer and will be allowed to go with the club’s blessing in a cut-price move if he can agree terms.

Newcastle have been interested in Kieran Tierney but it remains to be seen whether they follow up with a firm bid. They are looking at other options with Tierney likely to move on, having lost his place to Oleksandr Zinchenko.

Emile Smith Rowe is another who could be moved on, although that would be significantly more controversial considering his popularity since graduating through the academy. Folarin Balogun, who has recently committed to playing for the United States national team, could also be on the move, with links to AC Milan after a brilliant season on loan with Reims.

Deadwood within the squad will also be moved on, including the likes of Nicolas Pepe and Cedric Soares. Pepe, the club’s record signing back in 2019, is clearly not in Arteta’s plans, and although there is an acceptance they will take a massive hit, he will be moved on if an acceptable offer is lodged.

Cedric has spent the last few months with Fulham but has similarly struggled to make an impact at Craven Cottage. Ironically, had he stayed at his parent club, he may have earned some opportunities thanks to the injury of Takehiro Tomiyasu.

However, Arteta would like to improve his options at right back, allowing more flexibility for Ben White to play centrally as and when required.

‌Arsenal are ready to cash in and rebuild with Declan Rice and Moises Caicedo among their summer targets to build on this season’s promise.

Defeat to Brighton last time out has all but ended the Gunners’ hopes of a first league title in 20 years, with Manchester City now just a win away from regaining their crown. But there is a determination from those within the Emirates that this won’t be a one-season challenge and they will be even more ready to compete by the end of the summer window.

“With the level that is required for the Premier League and to fight for the Champions League, the way we have to fight for the Champions League, there’s a lot to think about,” Artetat said after the 30 loss to the Seagulls.

“Obviously what the team has done over the last ten months is very different to what anybody expected and that generates a lot of expectation as well enthusiasm, happiness and joy.

“That’s something that has to be managed in the right way and after that we have the responsibility to make sure the team performs and I am responsible for that.”

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