After a season of significant progress in 2022/23, where they were leading the way at the top of the Premier League for a long time, Arsenal and manager Mikel Arteta saw this summer as a chance to build on that and strengthen again. Ajax defender Jurrien Timber arrived as one of the Spaniard’s key signings but unfortunately sustained a serious cruciate knee ligament injury in the Gunners’ first game of the season. They’re now a man down, but it doesn’t mean sales are off the cards.
Before the season kicked off and even before Arsenal were active in the transfer window, Premier League betting had them installed as a team who could, once again, mount a realistic title challenge. Of course, this was based on what they achieved last term, but the thought has always been that if the Gunners added more quality and strength in depth, they could go one better in 2023/24 and be crowned champions.
The arrival of Timber, alongside David Raya, Declan Rice and Kai Havertz, was just what the doctor ordered in some respects, with Arsenal also beginning to adjust their squad by letting seven players leave, either for free, on loan or for fees, at the time of writing. Two other players rumoured to have doubtful futures at the Emirates are left-back Kieran Tierney, who is completely out of favour, and centre-back Gabriel, who has gone from starting every game to being named as a substitute so far this season.
While Timber’s long-term absence could give Arteta food for thought in terms of letting one or more defenders leave, it’s possible that Arsenal would still be willing to press ahead with departures, knowing they could rake in a substantial amount and then use the funds generated to bring in more quality before the window closes. Tierney was long linked with a £30 million switch to Newcastle, but after they acquired Lewis Hall from Chelsea, it’s unlikely they’d still be suitors.
The Scot remains the likelier of the two defenders many believe are “for sale” to find a new home before the window closes, but with supposed interest from the Saudi Pro League in Gabriel, and also links to him being a potential replacement for Eder Militao at Real Madrid, who has picked up a long term injury himself, it could still be a case of two out, and potentially one or more in. But what could end up working against Arteta and Arsenal is the transfer deadline coming into view on the horizon and whether the right chain of events could happen within the narrowing timeframe.
For example, Marc Guehi is a player the Spaniard is said to admire, but because he’s one of Crystal Palace’s key players, it’s highly unlikely the Eagles will want to sell at this late stage. And if they did, they’d need a replacement themselves. Arteta won’t let players out and bring replacements in who are of a similar quality. But if he and Arsenal box smart, they could do more significant business after more departures.
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