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Debriefing Mikel Arteta’s summer expectations

What should Arsenal’s expectations be for the rest of the summer?

The Guardian released a lengthy piece this morning when Willian made his London switch, detailing the Brazilian’s key traits, and why he made the move, taking the pulse from the former Chelsea man and from Mikel Arteta. More importantly, the article went into detail about Arsenal’s expectations for the rest of the summer window.

According to the Guardian article, here’s the plan at the moment.

Arsenal expect to confirm another big-money contract soon, with the captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang likely to sign a new deal in time for next season. They will also be active in what promises to be a frantic transfer market until the window closes in October. A defender, a central midfielder, and another forward are all in Arteta’s sights and, with a bulging wage bill, departures of several peripheral players are inevitable to help fund such moves.

Now a lot of that is good news, but a lot of it we knew already. We know that Arsenal wants Aubameyang back in the fold, on a three year deal, with wages reportedly anywhere from £250k to £315k per week on the discussion table. That deal is reportedly nearing completion, to the point where it might be completed before this is posted. That fulfills the minimum expectations for the summer.

We also know that Arsenal are looking to offload dead wood, due to a surplus of bodies in a number of positions, without real, convincing talent to accompany inflated wages. But the word “peripheral” is key in this situation, because of to whom it applies.

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Instead of looking to sell players like Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Riess Nelson, who play third fiddle in their positions, but are in favor with Mikel Arteta, it will be players like Mesut Ozil, Matteo Guendouzi, Lucas Torreira and Sead Kolasinac who will be making way (we hope). That mission fits with Arteta’s “buy in or get out” mentality, but it also makes me fear for players like Gabriel Martinelli and Rob Holding, who didn’t play unless absolutely necessary under Mikel Arteta, the Brazilian’s injury notwithstanding.

It also worries me that Arsenal will miss out on some key chances to sell players in their prime. Shkodran Mustafi and Alexandre Lacazette are entering the final years of their contracts, and despite finding favor under Arteta, the time to sell is now if we want to recoup good money for them.

And what should fans expectations be about incoming players? Well, that’s pretty simple. A defender will be coming to the club to fill a left-sided role, if not the center of a back three. And considering Dayot Upamecano’s value increased about £30 million after RB Leipzig’s victory over Atletico Madrid, we’ll need to be very budget savvy with who we approach.

An attacker also makes sense. Whether a loan move for another veteran like Philippe Coutinho, or splashing some cash—which we don’t currently have, of course—on a young gun like Luka Jovic, we need some more firepower, mainly in the creativity department.

But the phrase “a central midfielder” is what strikes fear into my heart. Because unfortunately, that implies one (1) central midfielder will be coming into the fold, at a point where we desperately need two. So brace yourself for one of Dani Ceballos or Thomas Partey, because barring another season-long loan for Ceballos, (God please with an obligation to buy), there appears to be very little chance we sign both.

The worst part about that missed opportunity is that signing Partey as a 27-year-old makes good sense, but the older he gets, the less financially viable the move is, even if he is the perfect player for our team. He very much has an invisible “now-or-never” clause hanging over his head, and if Arsenal fail to take advantage, you can be sure we’ll pay the price.

Next: 4 inexpensive center-back options for Saliba

So, fellow Arsenal fans, it looks to be another mixed bag of a summer. We’re yet again scuppered by our wage bill, and despite promising news on a weekly basis, Arsenal will likely fall short of their goals. But at the same time, we have a lot to look forward to. So let’s put our faith in Mikel Arteta, and brace ourselves for a very interesting 2020/21.

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