Tomorrow the players who aren’t – or haven’t been – away on international duty return for pre-season training. The hard work starts here etc etc.
We’re still waiting for things to start happening in the transfer market, in both directions, so I thought I’d sum up where we are in terms of movement, rumours, and so on. Let’s go position by position.
Outgoing: There’s a story doing the rounds linking Runar Alex Runarsson with a move to Altay Spor, a Turkish club newly promoted to the Super Lig. Bless him, he seems like a nice young man, but he is the equivalent of your keeper not turning up for a Sunday League game and someone’s little brother gets volunteered to do the job. The deal is supposed to be permanent and I can’t see any reason why we’d do anything other than facilitate his departure.
Mat Ryan is about to sign for Real Sociedad, while Academy graduate Arthur Okonkwo’s contract expired on June 30th and as yet there’s been no announcement about a renewal. He’s probably hanging out in the free agent VIP section with Lionel Messi.
Incoming: It’s all gone quiet on the Andre Onana front, but I can’t see why he’d commit to a transfer now rather than wait till next summer when he can leave Ajax on a Bosman and can pick and choose from all kinds of clubs.
There are some stories out of Spain linking us with Barcelona’s Brazilan keeper Neto. They badly need to get rid of players to cut their wage bill, and while he wouldn’t be the homegrown keeper we’re reportedly looking for, he is represented by Kia Joorabchian and as such I don’t rule this one out as easily as some might. He’s made just 17 appearances for them since joining from Valencia and is, I suppose, classic back-up goalkeeper material (which is fine, once you’re only using him as back-up).
Outgoing: It’s been pretty quiet on that front. Hector Bellerin is expected to go, but there’s been nothing new from Inter Milan who want to sign him on the never-never. There’s obviously the William Saliba stuff but I’ve written plenty about that already. Beyond that, it doesn’t seem as if anyone’s sniffing around anyone else, for now.
Incoming: I expect Ben White to get done, but not until the Euros are over. He’s not been involved for England, but I just think the optics of it, particularly now we’re right at the business end of the tournament, mean nothing will happen until it’s over or England are out.
The deal for the Benfica left-back Nuno Tavares seems likely to get done. It makes sense on all kinds of levels. I have no idea if he’s any good, or will be any good, but it’s a move away from the late-career sort-of starter/mostly-back up defenders we’ve bought too many of in recent years, so that suggests we’re learning. We’ve heard a lot about our desire to bring in a right-back, so it’s suspiciously quiet on that front. Nothing happening, or a surprise package? Let’s see.
Outgoing: Matteo Guendouzi is joining Marseille, even if he did jump the gun a bit with his farewell message on Instagram which he subsequently deleted. I expect Lucas Torreira to follow him now that Uruguay are out of the Copa America, and a similar kind of loan now/pay later from a Serie A club makes sense. Dani Ceballos is gone, Martin Odegaard has ruled out a return, and Granit Xhaka’s time in North London looks set to come to an end once Roma find a few quid extra.
It remains to be seen what’s going to happen with Ainsley Maitland-Niles, and there’s obviously a decision to be made about Joe Willock after his sensational goalscoring spell while on loan at Newcastle.
Incoming: Albert Sambi Lokonga is not with Anderlecht’s pre-season training camp and is ‘edging closer and closer’ to an Arsenal move apparently. It’s one of those that should happen, and when you look at his profile, he’s probably a replacement for Dani Ceballos in terms of his position in the squad. If/when Xhaka goes, it feels like we need a signing to fill that particular gap, unless there’s something being cooked up with an internal solution but that seems unlikely. There’s reported interest in Italy’s Manuel Locatelli but if he’s got to choose between us and Juventus, I don’t think we stand a chance there. Hopefully we have some other irons in that particular fire.
It’s gone quiet on the creative midfielder front, and again I worry that we might do something where we think we’re being smart by exploiting Barcelona’s current predicament to do a deal for Philippe Coutinho at a ‘knock down’ price. He had surgery in April which doesn’t make this any less likely, and his name was given some consideration in January before we brought in Odegaard, so he’s not off the radar by any means. I get why some people might think I’m cooking up a worst case scenario here, but time is ticking, and let’s be honest, as encouraging as some of the names we’ve been linked with are, Edu still has plenty to prove this summer. Maybe he fancies one easy one to lighten the load.
Outgoing: Eddie Nketiah rejected a contract extension, because he has common sense. He’s been linked with Bayer Leverkeusen, as well as Brighton and Crystal Palace. The Alexandre Lacazette situation is one we need to manage too, with a year left on his deal we should be trying to recoup at least some of the near £50m we paid for him, but as yet there’s been no publicly reported interest in him during this window.
Willian remains on the books, there were some reports he rejected a move to Inter Miami over the salary, but I’m not sure how much truth there is in that. Again though, if we’re rebuilding, we should be doing everything possible to find him a new home. However, I wonder if the fact Gabriel Martinelli is going to the Olympics and Bukayo Saka’s season may be delayed because of the need to give him some holidays might see this one run right until the end of the window.
Reiss Nelson has been training hard this summer, but like Nketiah has a year left on his deal, and his departure would be no surprise at all.
Incoming: It’s been very quiet on this front. I can’t really think of any substantive links to players, whether they’re wide men or strikers. I have a sneaky feeling we might sign a striker if Lacazette goes, but what that means for Folarin Balogun’s pathway is a reasonable question. Would he have signed a new deal if he thought a new multi-million pound signing was going to be in his way? Perhaps there’s a hint there.
So, plenty still do, and with pre-season training about to start, the clock is ticking a bit louder than we might like. Let’s see what happens.
Right, that’s about it. At the Euros this evening we have the first semi-final when Italy face Spain, and let’s hope it’s a classic of good football, many goals and incidents, and massive shithousery from both sides. Kick off 20.00.
If you haven’t had a chance to listen already, the new Arsecast Extra is below. Enjoy!