3 players set to leave Arsenal on a free this summer: Lacazette…
Arsenal will be desperately seeking reinforcements in this summer’s transfer window regardless of whether they secure Champions League football or not. But Mikel Arteta may also need to replace a few players who look set to depart the Emirates for free.
The Spanish boss has earned plaudits during the 2021-22 season for developing an Arsenal squad mixed with young talent and experienced stars into serious top four contenders.
After a turbulent start to their Premier League campaign which saw the Gunners lose their opening three matches, few could have foreseen the remarkable turnaround in fortunes – barring a few underwhelming results – over recent months.
But it’s never easy building on success if prized assets leave a club for free. Arsenal have lost players in the past for nothing who were worthy of commanding hefty transfer fees – Sol Campbell and Robert Pires being two standout names on a lengthy list.
The north London side are expected to lose three more players for free in a couple of months time; individuals who could prove to be valuable elsewhere.
Here’s who’s set to depart for nothing.
The 22-year-old striker progressed through Arsenal’s academy ranks but has failed to cement a consistent spot in the starting line-up under Arteta.
This term, Nketiah has only featured in 13 Premier League matches, with most of these outings coming from the bench. His failure to register a league goal in this time suggests his Spanish boss has good reason to select other attacking options.
The striker already has previous experience of life away from the Emirates. He endured a forgetful loan spell at Leeds United in the Championship in 2019-20. Marcelo Bielsa wasn’t his biggest fan and favoured Patrick Bamford leading the line.
“I’d played quite well whenever I’d come on or started and felt I was in good form,” Nketiah said, reflecting on his Elland Road stay.
“That was a difficult time, but those things are going to happen in your career, so it was good to deal with it at a young age and learn how to get past it.”
Despite the minimal impact made when he temporarily departed the Premier League giants, it hasn’t knocked Nketiah’s confidence to fulfil his undoubted potential – he’s reportedly rejected offers to stay at the Gunners due to a desire to pursue a new challenge.
“Eddie [Nketiah] knows how much I rate him and I would like him to stay at the club. He has the Arsenal DNA in his blood, and he loves the club so much. His reason is that he wants to play more football, and that’s a genuine reason, it’s nothing to do with anything else,” Arteta said on the situation in December 2021.
It looks nailed on that Arsenal will lose Nketiah. Based on his sporadic role in the Spaniard’s squad to date, you fancy his absence won’t have too much of a detrimental effect.
Elneny looked set to leave Arsenal in the January transfer window before Arteta blocked any potential move for the Egypt international according to the player’s agent. Newcastle United, Leeds and Watford were all reportedly interested in signing the 29-year-old.
Since Elneny’s arrival at the Gunners from FC Basel in 2016, there’s been an overriding agreement from fans that he’s not up to the level Arsenal require to return to the title-winning days the club enjoyed under Arsene Wenger.
Goal journalist Charles Watts reported on his YouTube channel at the end of March that the midfielder will be on his way in the summer.
Unlike Nketiah, where there’s a desire from within the club for him to stay, Elneny hasn’t been offered new terms which is no great surprise considering he’s only featured in seven Premier League matches this season.
But he promises to be a shrewd addition for whichever team snaps him up for free.
Arteta has hinted that the club will offer Lacazette fresh terms at the end of the season, but the 30-year-old has been strongly linked with a return to Lyon when his current contract expires in July.
“I’d like to see more goals from someone like Lacazette,” Arsenal legend Ian Wright said in late February. “I think some of the time he’s coming way too deep. We need a focal point because we’ve got players who can run off of him.
“I’d like him to stay up there a little bit more, we know he has to link but stay up there a little bit more, give us someone to hit.”
While the France international has been criticised for some of his performances this season, he’s the only senior striker the Gunners have on their books at the moment – Nketiah aside – following Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang’s departure to Barcelona in January.
If Arteta does lose Lacazette, they’ll have their work cut out in the transfer window trying to find replacements for both him and Aubameyang – this is the first Premier League season where Wenger’s signing has failed to hit the 10-goal mark.