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Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal Squad Quota Dilemma

You have to take the good with the bad.

The good? Arsenal have brought in a world class midfielder and strengthened other areas of importance. The bad? Mikel Arteta is now faced with a bloated squad that needs trimming.

Not being sold or loaned out, but actually trimmed. Cut entirely.

With Partey joining the fray, Arsenal now have 19 non-homegrown players in their 25-man squad. The catch is that this squad list is can contain no more than 17 senior players who don’t class as homegrown. There will need to be cuts.

This list must be submitted to the Premier League by October 20th, with some big decisions needed to be made in the coming days. Ideally, this wouldn’t have been an issue if the players not in Arteta’s plans were successfully shipped off in the window.

More from Pain in the Arsenal

Defenders Shkodran Mustafi, Sead Kolasinac and Sokratis were all linked with moves away prior to Monday’s deadline, but for one reason or another, they all fell through.

A certain degree of criticism can be directed towards the recruitment department for failing to pull these departures off, but equal measures of understanding must be added when you factor in the difficult nature of the current market.

Of course, the domestic window remains open until October 16th, but realistically I don’t think we can foresee any of our senior squad being willing to drop down divisions during that time, as much as some Championship clubs would jump at the opportunity.

So, Who Gets Left Out at Arsenal?

For sure, a central defender will have to make way. A late attempt to see William Saliba go back to Saint-Étienne on loan couldn’t be completed before the deadline to help ease the numbers, but he doesn’t count in the 25-man squad anyway.

Pablo Mari is on the road to recovery having featured only three times, but as a summer signing he too will not likely make way. The fact he is the only other left-footed centre-back in the squad significantly helps his case. Mustafi, when fit, can offer some dependency in the back, while there is still hope that Calum Chambers can make a positive impact this season. So, it pretty falls down to one man: Sokratis.

LONDON, ENGLAND – OCTOBER 27: Sokratis Papastathopoulos of Arsenal (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)

Arsenal pulled the plug on a late move to Paris Saint-Germain on deadline day, as the Ligue 1 champions wanted his contract to be cancelled to move for free. Arsenal, naturally, wanted a fee.

All signs really point towards Sokratis being left out of the 25-man squad. If that were to occur, as I truly believe it will, then I don’t think any supporters can have qualms over the decision. He’s at the bottom of the pile in that position.

Another will need to make way, though.

This will be no easy call, but, again, all indications point towards it being Mesut Ozil. Since the German last played for the club, we’ve paid him over £10m in wages. An insane, and depressing, figure.

There was light at the end of the tunnel for both him and Matteo Guendouzi in late August, with Arteta insisting “everybody is going to have the same opportunities. They have to show with their performance their attitude that they are better than their teammates or somehow contributing with what we want to achieve this season”.

Arsenal, Mesut Ozil

LONDON, ENGLAND – MARCH 07: Mesut Ozil of Arsenal reacts during the Premier League match between Arsenal FC and West Ham United at Emirates Stadium on March 07, 2020 in London, United Kingdom. (Photo by Chloe Knott – Danehouse/Getty Images)

Leaving the door slightly ajar, it’s quite clear neither play has been able knock loud enough. Guendouzi has been shipped of for the season, Ozil remains an outcast without an appearance in a matchday squad, and the road back looks well and truly closed.

Emile Smith Rowe, who will be fit when the international break concludes, is undoubtedly ahead of him in the pecking order. Considering Gabriel Martinelli won’t play until the next squad is confirmed in January, he could have made way, but players under 21 don’t need to be registered.

It really can’t be anyone else.

What a shocking turn of events that will transpire with a £350k-per-week World Cup winner not even registered to play for the club. He wasn’t going to feature anyway, but it’s still humiliating. For him and the club. However, it’s pretty much the only choice Arteta can make.

Next: Sead Kolasinac Must Take a Leaf Out of Cedric’s Book

He has a squad he’s happy with, one that is entirely Ozil-less. There is still time for a change of heart, but I see no other outcome other than Sokratis and Ozil being omitted. They’re the obvious candidates, with little likely to alter their cases.

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