It’s going to be a busy old summer at Arsenal, so to keep us updated on what exactly is going on and stop our heads spinning a bit, we asked James McNicholas…
The Leo Messi saga is dominating the transfer tittle-tattle pages, but arguably the most interesting club – in the Premier League, at least – to keep an eye on is Arsenal.
To that end, The Athletic’s Arsenal correspondent James McNicholas joined us on The Totally Football Show to update us on what’s going on. And this is what he said…
On Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang:
“We know there’s a huge desire on the club’s part to keep him, and they’re prepared to push the boat out financially to do that. We know he wants to stay – he’s been incredibly impressed by Mikel Arteta, so everything is in place for an agreement. I have to say it’s not there yet, despite the will on both sides.”
On Hector Bellerin:
“There are talks between Arsenal and PSG at a high level about a deal, and there seems to be a degree of optimism on both sides that an accord can be reached. It would be a deal that would see Arsenal get substantial return on a player they signed for almost nothing, and would get PSG a right-back they really, really value.
“For Arsenal it might open an opportunity for Ainsley Maitland-Niles to play as the replacement right-back, because he looked to be heading out the exit door to Wolves.”
On Gabriel Magalhaes and Arsenal’s defence generally:
“He’s a centre-half, it’s an area Arsenal have had weakness for a long time, but not just a centre-half: a 6 foot 3 centre-half, a left-sided centre-half. I think he’s a really promising young player: arguably the best young centre-halves in Ligue 1 last year were Gabriel and William Saliba.
“They have the physicality, the talent, the ability on the ball – they could be the foundations of an Arsenal defence for the next five to ten years. It’s optimistic thinking, but after so many seasons of defensive problems for Arsenal, that’s the big hope now.
“Rob Holding should go to Newcastle, but David Luiz still has another 12 months on his contract, and I think he’ll still play a relatively significant role. Mikel Arteta likes his ability on the ball, he likes the leadership he shows. But their long-term plan is to invest in Gabriel and Saliba, which is a process we’ll see over the next season.”
On Emi Martinez and the goalkeeping situation:
“Martinez has waited ten years for this opportunity at Arsenal, and he’s still only played 15 Premier League games to date, which is nothing really, but he does look so assured. It creates this problem of who is No.1, and is the guy who loses out going to be on the move?
“My understanding is that Arsenal still have enormous faith in Bernd Leno. It’s forgotten but before his injury last season he was incredibly impressive, I hear he’s looked in very good form in training, and when the Premier League rolls around they would be happy to return to Leno in that competition.
“That’s a problem for Martinez because having waited for so long to be a No.1, he’s not going to want to relinquish that chance now. With his stock at an all-time high, he might look to move on and it might in Arsenal’s interests to sell him. They need cash, particularly if they want to invest in their midfield, and he could be a source of that cash.”
On Alexandre Lacazette:
“He’s one to keep an eye on. He’s got two years left remaining on his contract, and he’s in a position where I don’t think Arsenal are going to offer him a new contract, so they will have to consider a sale. There’s talk of interest from Juventus, Atletico Madrid.”
On Matteo Guendouzi and Lucas Torreira:
“He was left out by Arteta for a protracted spell at the end of last season. I think there’s been a less interest, or interest at a lower level than Arsenal anticipated. When Arteta said the other week “we’re thinking of reintroducing Guendouzi, there’s always a second chance”, I think that was partly designed to increase his transfer value.
“Also Torreira could go. Effectively they need to raise funds to sign the midfielders they need, so it’s going to be a busy few weeks.”
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