The six Arsenal players let go by Mikel Arteta and how they’ve fared since

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After inheriting an underperforming Arsenal team, Mikel Arteta has displayed his ruthless streak by selling first-team players. 

The Arsenal squad was in need of an overhaul when Arteta replaced Unai Emery in December 2019, and he hasn’t been afraid to get rid of some big names.

We’ve taken a look at the six first-teamers to leave Arsenal on a permanent basis since Arteta took over to see how they have subsequently fared.

Emiliano Martinez

Martinez spent a decade at the Emirates Stadium but only got his first extended run in the Arsenal team towards the end of 2019-20, excelling in their FA Cup run.

After Bernd Leno returned from injury, the Argentina international was not given reassurances that he would remain their first-choice goalkeeper and joined Aston Villa in a £17million deal in 2020.  

“I told him [Mikel Arteta] I wanted to play week in, week out and he couldn’t guarantee who was going to start,” Martinez said in November 2020.

“Even before the Community Shield, he didn’t know who was going to play in goal. I just wanted to play first-team football and Arsenal could not guarantee me that.”

He has been a revelation for Villa this season, registering 13 clean sheets in 24 Premier League appearances at the time of writing.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan

Mkhitaryan never played under Arteta and was allowed to join Roma on a permanent deal after a successful loan spell with the Serie A side.

The Armenia international has revived his career following a difficult time in England, registering 11 goals and 11 assists in all competitions in 2020-21 at the time of writing. 

Arsenal might just be regretting this one…

READ: PL flop? Nah, Henrikh Mkhitaryan is actually one of Europe’s best players

Matt Macey

Having made just two first-team appearances for Arsenal, Macey joined Scottish Premiership side Hibernian on a six-month contract in January 2021. 

“I’m grateful for every experience I had at Arsenal but I’m hungry to play first-team football,” Macey told Hibernian’s official website. “I know that won’t be handed to me here, so it’s up to me to show what I can do in training and take it from there.

“No-one has to tell me what a big club Hibernian is, in a competitive league. I’m looking forward to getting started.”

The goalkeeper made his debut in a 1-1 draw against Celtic but is currently behind Ofir Marciano in the pecking order at Easter Road.


After being deemed surplus to requirements by Arteta, Sokratis had his contract was cancelled by mutual consent and joined Olympiacos in January 2021. 

During his first seven games for the Greek side, he has registered one clean sheet and helped them win four games. 

The 32-year-old now looks set to return to the Emirates Stadium after Olympiacos were drawn against the Gunners in the Europa League Round of 16. 

“It is something special because until a month ago I was with them,” Sokratis said. “I think it will be a difficult game. Arsenal are a very big team.

“We have to be focused during both games to repeat last year. There are no big differences because he is the same coach. More or less it is the same team with two or three additions.

“It is a team with great quality, but there are also areas we can hit to harm them.”

Mesut Ozil

Despite being a big part of Arteta’s initial plans at Arsenal, Ozil eventually fell out of favour and was exiled from the Premier League and Europa League squads.

The 32-year-old had his contract cancelled by the Gunners in January 2021, allowing him to move on a free transfer to Turkish side Fenerbahce. 

He joined a Fener side that was flying high at the top of Super Lig but they have endured a miserable downturn in form in recent weeks.

Ozil has failed to register a single goal or an assist for the Turkish side, who have lost three of the six games he has played since joining.

Shkodran Mustafi

Mustafi was allowed to join Schalke on a free transfer in February 2021.

The Gelsenkirchen-based outfit are currently sitting at the bottom of the Bundesliga and needed a replacement for Ozan Kabak, who joined Liverpool on loan.

After making his debut in a 3-0 defeat to RB Leipzig, the centre-back kept a clean sheet against Union Berlin but was part of the team that conceded five goals to Stuttgart.

According to reports, Mustafi and Arsenal loanee Sead Kolasinac led a player revolt against manager Christian Gross, who has now been sacked by the club. 

“I wouldn’t get the same players again in winter,” Gross told Blick when asked what he’d do differently if he had his time again. “They are experienced, these players, but yes, everything did not go well.”

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