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21/22 First Team General New Contracts Transfers Youth

Summer 2021/22

The transfer window finally closes with a snap for six months.

What teams have at their disposal will have to last them until January at this point, so any players looking for moves to and from Arsenal will need to wait another six months.

Here’s how Arsenal faired over the summer window:

Ins:

DateNameFromFee
10/7/2021🇵🇹 Nuno Tavares🇵🇹 Benfica£6.7m
19/7/2021🇧🇪 Albert Sambi Lokonga🇧🇪 Anderlecht£17.2m
30/7/2021🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 Ben White🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 Brighton£50m
20/8/2021🇳🇴 Martin Ødegaard🇪🇸 Real Madrid£29m
20/8/2021🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 Aaron Ramsdale🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 Sheffield Utd£28m
31/8/2021🇯🇵 Takehiro Tomiyasu🇮🇹 Bologna£16m

Total: £146.9m

Outs:

DateNameToFee
24/6/2021🇬🇷 Kostas Mavropanos🇩🇪 StuttgartLoan
21/6/2021🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 Zech Medley🇧🇪 KV Oostende£1m
1/7/2021🇧🇷 David Luiz🇹🇷 Adana DemirsporFree
6/7/2021🇫🇷 Mattéo Guendouzi🇫🇷 Marseille*£10m
7/7/2021🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 Kieran Petrie🏴󠁧󠁢󠁷󠁬󠁳󠁿 Swansea CityFree
15/7/2021🇫🇷 William Saliba🇫🇷 MarseilleLoan
13/8/2021🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 Joe Willock🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 Newcastle Utd£25m
25/8/2021🇺🇾 Lucas Torreira🇮🇹 FiorentinaLoan
30/8/2021🇧🇷 Willian🇧🇷 CorinthiansFree
31/8/2021🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 Reiss Nelson🇳🇱 FeynoordLoan
31/8/2021🇪🇸 Héctor Bellerín🇪🇸 Real BetisLoan

* Mattéo Guendouzi’s move to Marseille is a season-long loan, with a purchase obligation for £10m at the end of the loan spell.

Total: £36m
Total Net Spend: -£110.9m

Overall, a fairly mixed bag from Arsenal. A huge amount of money invested, and comparatively very little received in return.

The COVID-19 pandemic has certainly had an effect on the transfer window and on the way things have played out so far this summer, but a paltry £36m (£10m of which will not actually arrive in the accounts for another season as Mattéo Guendouzi is technically on loan for another season before the obligation comes into effect) to offset a stupendous £147m spent on new players is not a good look for Arsenal’s accounts this year.

Let’s take a look at Arsenal’s business this summer.

Mattéo Guendouzi was always likely to leave the club in some capacity.

Incomings
Arsenal’s incomings are a respectable bunch, decent signings that address the medium to long-term future of the club, but there is very little for the short-term.

Martin Ødegaard, Ben White and Takehiro Tomiyasu certainly fulfil issues the club has now, however, Nuno Tavares is signed as cover for Kieran Tierney (though the failure to offload Sead Kolašinac has immediately made the transfer redundant in the short-term); Albert Sambi Lokonga is a long-term replacement for Thomas Partey and Aaron Ramsdale is more of a Rúnar Alex Rúnarsson replacement at this point than a Bernd Leno replacement.

The deals that have been done have either been completed entirely too late or for a greater sum than the player’s market value.

Ben White is perhaps the best example of this. White is tipped for a bright and beautiful future in the game, however, questions are raised, even among his biggest supporters, over the whopping £50m fee that Arsenal have paid for the England youngster.

Whatever White’s abilities and potential are, they don’t seem high enough to merit such exorbitant spending. £50m should be signing you the finished article, not a “might be”.

White also seemed to represent the same problem as with other recruitments; the seeming lack of a Plan B.

Edmond Tapsoba was of interest, briefly.

For White, names such as Edmond Tapsoba and Jules Koundé were mentioned in passing as viable options, but neither ever really seemed serious. The same too can be said for Aaron Ramsdale. The prices being quoted are eye-watering for the players being mentioned and yet, Arsenal seemed totally unwilling to fish in another pond; Newcastle’s Freddie Woodman was again fleetingly mentioned, but overall, Ramsdale always seemed the priority.

As for the other signings, Mikel Arteta is well within his rights to demand of Edu, why were they not signed earlier?

Arsenal came out the other end of their 2-0 humbling at the hands of Brentford, with only three new signings, one of which was only starting owing to an injury to another player.

Arsenal showed against Brentford that they were in dire need of reinforcements and yet, there were none available. Martin Ødegaard would have likely lightened the load on Emile Smith Rowe and Takehiro Tomiyasu would have been a more welcome sight at right-back than Calum Chambers.

The age profile of the players is however a comforting notion. All the players signed are either 23 or under and represent the club thinking long-term, as opposed to the usual here and now signings that the likes of Willian represented.

Arsenal decided against recruiting last year’s target Houssem Aouar.

The failure to not bring in a goalscoring midfielder or a striker will sting however. Lyon were practically begging to offload Rayan Cherki and Houssem Aouar, yet, Arsenal refused to take them on. As for strikers, Lautaro Martínez and Tammy Abraham were mentioned as viable options, but Arsenal never tabled a bid for either player.

There is also the bizarre dodging of Brighton’s Yves Bissouma. The Malian midfielder was calling Arsenal all summer and yet, Arsenal were uninterested in pursuing a deal.

There is always a frustration around Deadline Day deals. The same thing was true last season when the club unceremoniously snatched Thomas Partey from Atlético Madrid by activating his £45m (€50m) release clause. Why, if Tomiyasu was so high on the club’s agenda as their prime right-back target, did it take so long to sign him up?

The fee paid for the Japan international was not unaffordable and the club have need a new right-back since around October of last year, why was he only signed on the last day of August?

Takehiro Tomiyasu is a welcome addition to Arsenal’s growing back line.

Some may point to the fact that Arsenal needed to sell before they could buy, but this too seems to have a flaw. Tomiyasu will be Arsenal’s fifth right-back.

Though Héctor Bellerín has left on loan, he will be back next season and will need to have his future resolved, unlikely to be happy to play second fiddle after a season of presumably being first choice at Real Betis. Calum Chambers and Cédric Soares are also still at the club. Arsenal have the option to extend Chambers’ deal by a further year and Cédric’s deal does not run out for another three years.

Elsewhere, Ainsley Maitland-Niles will also be hungry for game time as he too has nowhere to play after the club blocked his Deadline Day move to Everton and no chance of a reconciliation with Mikel Arteta anytime soon following his ill-advised Instagram SOS call.

Which brings us onto the outgoings.

Outgoings
It is worth prefacing before focusing on Arsenal’s outgoings that the COVID-19 pandemic has had an impact on the finances on all teams not named Manchester City or Chelsea (or Arsenal, given the relative spending to those two), so shifting players was always going to be a task.

With that in mind, it’s difficult to be too harsh on Edu’s inability to find homes for certain players.

However, on the other hand, there have been several situations this summer that have been very poorly handled from the start.

William Saliba’s situation is perhaps the best place to start. Saliba returned from a six-month loan deal at Nice prepared to break into the Arsenal first team and with David Luiz’s departure, he looked ready to finally accept a place in Mikel Arteta’s side.

William Saliba was unnecessarily loaned out once more.

However, questions were raised over the Frenchman’s experience, having only played 12 out of the past 24 months owing to the early closure of Ligue 1 during his time with Saint-Étienne and Arsenal’s failure to secure a loan deal for him until January of last year.

Saliba, it was decided, needed to have more experience at senior level, with the club keen for him to receive more top-level experience in the Premier League with Newcastle. However, Saliba opted for a move back to France, where he joined Marseille.

This too seems a baffling choice. Saliba cannot be as far behind the likes of Rob Holding or Calum Chambers in terms of being prepared and why did the club no insist that he take a loan in England to acclimatise? Instead, Arsenal have loaned him back to the only league he’s ever played in which, doesn’t provide enough experience that he needs.

It is also arguable that Saliba’s loan out also created the need to sign Ben White, as Arsenal lacked depth.

Elsewhere, the Granit Xhaka situation also raises several eyebrows.

Xhaka had been of interest to Roma for a while, with Roma manager José Mourinho speaking highly of the player and reiterating his stance of signing him for the club.

The club decided to offer Granit Xhaka a new contract after his failed move to Roma.

The two clubs ultimately failed to agree on a fee. Arsenal, to their credit, stood firm on their £17.1m (€20m) price tag and Roma failed to even come close to matching it.

So it seemed that Xhaka was destined for at least one more year in North London, which few could really argue with given his performances last season.

However, the club took the increasingly bizarre move to extend the midfielder’s contract, ostensibly to “protect his value”.

This seemed an odd move. Not only was Xhaka’s contract two years off expiring, but the one-year extension the club have given him makes it harder to rid themselves of the player as his value continues to plummet.

Although its early days in the season at this point, he’s not done much to show why he should be offered such a deal. A red card in Arsenal’s 5-0 humiliation at the hands of Manchester City was yet another cameo of the kind of performances Arsenal fans have come to expect from Xhaka.

However, there is some good to come from this summer in terms of outgoings. Arsenal were able to turn a huge profit on Joe Willock as he secured his move to Newcastle United for a staggering £25m and Arsenal were able to save a reported £20m on Willian’s contract after he agreed to a mutual termination and moved back to Corinthians in Brazil.

Arsenal turned down £10m for Eddie Nketiah, who will likely now move next summer for free.

Then there’s Eddie Nketiah.

Crystal Palace allegedly issued a “take it or leave it” offer of £10m to Arsenal for the striker, which Arsenal turned down.

This seems to be the very apex of incompetence.

Not only is Arsenal’s valuation of the player entirely too high (the club reportedly wanted as much as £20m), but the fact that the club have turned down tangible money for a player that will walk for free next summer is baffling to the nth degree.

What value is there in keeping Nketiah? He is behind Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette and Folarian Balogun in the pecking order and even Gabriel Martinelli is starting more games than him as a striker, so why hold on to him? Surely it’s better to compromise on an offer to guarantee some funds than to stick with him for another year and lose him for nothing? In fact, his sale could have helped fund 62.5% of the fee for Tomiyasu and have resulted in a slightly better accounting sheet.

However, this is not even the worst situation this summer.

Ainsley Maitland-Niles came close to securing himself a move away last season. Wolverhampton Wanderers tabled a £20m bid for the young England youth player, and personal terms were agreed, however, a last minute intervention from Mikel Arteta saw Maitland-Niles ultimately stay put, having been given assurances of playtime.

Despite this, Maitland-Niles never really established himself int he team and was hastily loaned out to West Bromwich Albion in the January window.

The drama surrounding Ainsley Maitland-Niles was not a helpful distraction for Arsenal.

This summer, Everton put in an offer of a one year loan with a purchase option at the end of the deal. However, given Maitland-Niles’ contract situation (his deal runs out in two years) Arsenal rejected the offer, encouraging Everton to return (if at all) with a more enticing option, either with an obligation to buy or a straight bid.

However, Maitland-Niles did not react kindly to this new development and took to Instagram to vent his frustrations with the club and his situation.

No sooner had the post been made that Maitland-Niles held talks with Edu and Arteta to discuss his situation. The club made it clear, he would not be sold and his Instagram stunt had earned him a spell of training on his own.

Now Arsenal are encumbered with a player who doesn’t want to be at the club and someone who is very angry with the club’s treatment of him, again, why keep him?

Arsenal’s outgoing business has been shambolic, poorly thought through and incompetent to the point where the club were penny-pinching on assets they were perhaps likely to receive any money for whatsoever.

Now the attention turns to what Arsenal can muster on the field. The distraction of the transfer window will no longer loom large over the field of play, now is the time for Mikel Arteta and his players to turn around their dismal start to the season.

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21/22 First Team General Transfers Youth

Reiss Nelson Joins Feynoord on Loan

Reiss Nelson has joined Dutch Eredivisie team Feynoord on loan for the remainder of the season. Before leaving, Nelson extended his stay with the club further, until 2023.

It has seemed likely that Nelson would leave all summer, given his issues at the club in recent months.

After first breaking into the team during the club’s pre-season tour of Australia in 2017, by manager Arsène Wenger. Nelson continued to appear, though sporadically, for the club in the Europa League and in the Premier League.

Nelson has struggled to break into the team since Mikel Arteta’s appointment.

Following Wenger’s departure from the club, Nelson was loaned to 1899 Hoffenheim in Germany, scoring 7 goals for the club. Though he was not ever-present under Julian Nagelsmann, with rumours of poor attitude leaking to the press.

Following his loan deal, Nelson was used more often by new head-coach Unai Emery, however, he was unable to nail down a starting spot in the first-team and as the club’s form took a nosedive, so too did Nelson’s confidence.

When Mikel Arteta took over, Nelson was an instrumental part of the team that reached the FA Cup final, scoring against Leeds United in the process.

However, following the signing of Willian from Chelsea, Nelson saw his game time drastically reduced and was never able to appear for the club on a regular basis.

One thing that did catch Arsenal fan’s eyes however, was the repeated omissions from the senior squad and his regular outings for the U23s, something that was, strangely for Arsenal, kept under wraps.

Nelson will benefit from more game time.

Nelson seems unlikely to break into the first-team this season with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Emile Smith Rowe, Martin Ødegaard, Nicolas Pépé and Bukayo Saka all occupying the roles that he would normally play in.

Feynoord, for their part, had intended to take Manchester United youngster Amad Diallo on loan instead, however, the Ivorian’s injury in training has scuppered any chance of a deal being struck.

Arsenal will now turn their attentions to signing players ahead of tonight’s 23:00pm deadline.

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21/22 Backroom Staff First Team General New Contracts Transfers Youth

Much Edu About Nothing

As we enter the final fortnight of the transfer window, Arsenal fans, perhaps more than most, have the right to ask, just what is the hold up?

On the eve of Arsenal’s maiden Premier League kick off, the team enters the game with only three signings made. One is straight into the first team, one will likely start owing to an unfortunate injury crisis and the other is back-up to a pre-established player.

And yet, still, Arsenal have not still not addressed those areas that need attention. No back-up goalkeeper signed, no trustworthy right-back, a total lack of a goalscoring midfielder, no competition or depth for a creative midfielder and no new strikers, just what have Arsenal been doing all this time?


For Arsenal transfers, there are two men at the helm; Richard Garlick, Head of Football Operations and Edu, Technical Director. Given that this is Garlick’s first season with the club and he is barely a matter of months into the position, it seems unfair to be too critical of his role in the window so far, especially since fans have no clue as to what extent, if at all, he is involved, however, for Edu, questions begin to arise.

When Edu was appointed to the club’s first ever Technical Director role, fans began to question just how such a role would dovetail with then-Director of Football, Raul Sanhlleí. What was the difference between the two? Did the two work in tandem? Was Edu’s job similar to Sanllehí’s? What part does a ‘Technical Director’ play in scouting and recruitment?

As with Garlick, Edu’s first season is a little hard to be too critical of. By and large, the majority of Arsenal’s scouting and analytics was done months before Edu joined the club and Sanllehí had already begun groundwork on the signings to be made in the summer.

Richard Garlick, Edu’s new right-hand man.

However, at the end of Edu’s first season, which ended with one sacked managed, a global pandemic and the club’s record-extending 14th FA Cup, it was Sanllehí who parted ways with the club.

Though Arsenal fans were perhaps a little reticent to give praise to the man who brought about Arsenal’s sudden copacetic relationship with so-called “super agents”, Arsenal fans knew that the departure of Sanllehí was a big blow to potential transfer negotiations. For all his faults, the Spaniard’s earthy and charming personality was often a hit with bosses of other clubs and was often paramount to concluding business swiftly and as close to efficiently as Arsenal can manage.

With Sanllehí gone, the burden of strengthening the team fell largely onto Edu’s shoulders. Sanllehí’s somewhat brief redundancy meant that any deals the former-Barcelona man had been working on, would need to be re-negotiated. This meant that deals for Lille’s Gabriel Magalhães and for the re-loaning of Dani Ceballos from Real Madrid would have to start again from scratch.

These delays were not Edu’s fault and his ability to conclude both deals is to be commended. Gabriel, though he frustratingly dropped repeated hints that his decision was merely a week away, was signed up for a very attractive price, a price that is looking like a bargain so far.

Raul Sanllehí left the club amidst a cloud of controversy.

Elsewhere, however, Edu’s fingerprints were unmistakbly all over the deal to bring Willian from Chelsea. Though Willian was announced before Sanllehí’s subsequent departure, the rhetoric surrounding the deal suggests that Edu was its biggest advocate.

Sharing an agent with the Brazilian winger and having a pre-established relationship from their time in the Brazilian national team, the deal felt very much like Edu’s first real foray into recruitment.

The deal proved to be a total disaster for the club and though even the most pessimistic of Arsenal fans could not have predicted how badly it could have gone, it seems Arsenal, and by extension Edu, were blinded by the potential to sign a player from a local rival for free.

Of course, Willian’s disappointing Arsenal career is not the Technical Director’s fault, far from it. It’s not Edu who picks the team or the formation; it’s not Edu who hands out the tactical briefing before a game; Edu doesn’t pull the Arsenal shirt on and play the game for Willian, nor does he take the decision to persevere with the player when his poor form continues.

However, Willian’s presence at the club feels like a deal badly though through. On the obvious plus sides, Willian is a Premier League proven player, who has won just about everything there is to win in his career and has proven to be a useful player for Chelsea over the years. His penchant for deadball situations cannot be overstated either.

However, the positives were vastly outweighed by the negatives.

Arsenal fans may have many faults, but their ability to smell a rat is fairly mind-boggling. The deal had the air of a player wanting to chase one last big contract in London before retirement; his performances in recent seasons hadn’t exactly been stellar and his connection to Edu by proxy, had fans worried from the start.

The baffling thing for Arsenal fans, was how they, the man on the street, were able to spot a declining player, and yet a team of highly-trained and expensive scouts as well as a top-level football executive with a lifetime spent in the game, could not.

Willian has failed to make the mark under Mikel Arteta.

Another strange decision was the signing of Rúnar Alex Rúnarsson, from FC Dijon. The signing was suggested to the recruitment team by goalkeeping coach Iñaki Caña Pavón. Perhaps it’s fan’s naivety that led to questions being asked as to why the goalkeeping coach is able to make suggestions for transfers and then push them through, but the sentiment was still there, where was the recruitment team?

All hindsight is 20/20 and no one has it, but seeing Rúnarsson play last season, especially in his memorable disasterclass in the League Cup against Manchester City, fans began to question if the club had even bothered to do it’s homework before signing the player.

Then there was the signing of Thomas Partey from Atlético Madrid. Though the player was and still is a hugely impressive signing for a midtable team to make, concerns were raised as to why it took until deadline day to complete. Arsenal had known about Partey’s release clause for sometime, in fact, it had proven an obstacle the season before when Unai Emery expressed admiration for the player.

Yet, Edu, after weeks and weeks of trying and ultimately failing to get Atlético to agree to an instalment plan or any other price for the player, decided to activate the player’s release clause on deadline day. Since Partey was a priority transfer and would no doubt need time to settle into the club, amidst the celebrations, queries were again raised; if Arsenal were always going to just pay the release clause, why hadn’t they done it weeks ago?

The summer ended with a failed attempt to lure Lyon’s Houssem Aouar away from his boyhood club too. Though reports are sketchy as to why Arsenal were unable to sign the Frenchman, the fact remains that Arsenal failed to sign an important target, one the manager practically begged for and one who’s absence cost Arsenal dearly.

Arsenal failed to sign Houssem Aouar last summer, though could strike a deal this window.

Given Edu’s (albeit tenuous) connection to Lyon sporting director, Juninho Pernambucano, negotiations seemed but a formality. However, Edu either failed to make the connection count or the connection was, alas, meaningless in the grand scheme of things. Jean-Michel Aulas, the club’s CEO is a hard man to negotiate with at the best of times, and any prior relationship with his colleagues made little to no difference on the outcome at all. Arsenal left empty-handed.

From there, Arsenal’s on-field performance took precedent and people did not like what they saw. The decision not to register Mesut Özil for the forthcoming season amid his ongoing feud with the club, looked an inspired one at first, however, as Willian failed to have an impact in the middle and as there were no active creative midfielders in the squad, Arsenal nosedived and crashed before Christmas.

Though form eventually picked up and Hale End graduate Emile Smith Rowe stepped up to the plate, there was a feeling of desperation for creativity. Martin Ødegaard joined in January to fill the void and Özil was bundled through the fire exit with a blanket over his head, while the club quietly continued to pay his mammoth wages during his first 6 months with Fenerbahçe.

Marin Ødegaard was brought in as a much needed creative re-enforcement.

In fairness to Edu, his ability, along with Mikel Arteta, to persuade players staring longly at the departure’s lounge to renew their deals has been incredible. New deals for Kieran Tierney and Emile Smith Rowe, as well as persuading Folarian Balogun to extend his stay with the club have been very welcome news.

Many may dismiss the work done to retain academy products keen to extend their stay with their boyhood clubs as easy work, however, as Chelsea have discovered to their cost, childhood affection doesn’t always swing the deal your way.

Callum Hudson-Odoi’s salary is an albatross around the neck of Chelsea and the club likely look back with hindsight that they should have sold the player to Bayern Munich, when the club tabled a £30m offer for him.

Edu and co. have not had to break the bank to retain the stars of tomorrow and the players seem all too happy to be where they are.


During the run up to the summer, Mikel Arteta and Edu spoke of their tireless work to have their recruitments for the summer ready. Groundwork was laid, scouting was done and negotiations had, informally begun.

However, now, on the eve of their inaugural Premier League game, Arsenal look woefully ill-prepared.

A failed move for Aston Villa’s Emiliano Buendía was certainly an ego bruising Edu could have done without, but the weeks and weeks of negotiations with Brighton & Hove Albion, with no fewer than 5 bids being lodged for Ben White, only to then crumble and pay what was initially demanded is not a good look.

Arsenal were pipped to Emiliano Buendía by Aston Villa.

Deals have either taken too long to confirm, seem to have been badly negotiated on the fee side or have failed ot come to fruition.

Weeks of tracking Sheffield United’s Aaron Ramsdale have, so far, reached an impasse. The Blades are totally unwilling to budge from their £30m valuation of the player and Arsenal have so far yet to reach even half of that in their offers.

Elsewhere, creativity is still a huge issue. While the renewal of Emile Smith Rowe is to be commended, Arsenal still gave no cover available for the notoriously injury-prone youngster.

Martin Ødegaard continues to um and ah over his future with Real Madrid and a move for Leicester City’s James Maddison seems even more unlikely by the day.

Players who would vastly improve the team, who have openly flirted with the club, are still not under serious consideration. Ajax’s André Onana seems to be totally dead in the water and Yves Bissouma, though the club like him a lot, hasn’t even been spoken to.

Re-ignited interest in Houssem Aouar is welcome, but seems to be more as a back-up interest if moves elsewhere fall through.

Ben White, Arsenal’s third signing of the summer.

Two weeks until the end of the season and Arsenal are hardly any further forward than they were when they started. Edu’s harrying of the scouting team last summer, which saw the controversial decision to sack the extremely successful scout Francis Cagigao, seems woefully ill-advised as Arsenal have seemingly no real improvements selected for the team.

The signing of Ben White, Nuno Tavares and Albert Sambi Lokonga are all, in their own ways, welcome additions to the team, however, White seems an unnecessary expense.

White is certainly the player Arsenal have been crying out for for a while now. Composed on the ball, quick, tactically and positional versatile and with a good eye for a pass, White ticks all the boxes the club has to replace the hastily forgotten days of Shkodran Mustafi, Sokratis Papastathopoulos and David Luiz, but his price tag and need is somewhat overstated.

Despite his natural abilities, £50m or a central defender seems excessive, especially since Arsenal have often spoken about “outsmarting the market” and being sensible with their cash reserves.

There is also the underlying feeling that White would not need to have been signed had the club not loaned out William Saliba for the third time-in-a-row.

Saliba ended last season’s Ligue 1 campaign strongly, yet, despite his performances, the defender was immediately loaned out to French side Marseille, thus prompting a need for Arsenal to sign a new central defender.

The COVID-19 pandemic has effectively placed most clubs in dire straits. The ability to shift players (something Arsenal are often mocked for) is a valuable one as teams face more and more financial restraints which prevent them from shifting deadwood.

On borrowed time? Edu and Mikel Arteta need a quick start to the new season.

It is therefore difficult to blame Edu for not being able to shift the likes of Sead Kolašinac, Héctor Bellerín, Alexandre Lacazette, Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Lucas Torreira, however, the lack of shifted players is a worrying concern.

So far this summer, only Mattéo Guendouzi (who Arsenal will not receive a fee for until next summer) and Joe Willock (who will be joining Newcastle in a £25m deal) look to be leaving.

It seems as though Edu is taking on too much work for one man. With a new sub-goalkeeper, right-back, box-to-box midfielder, attacking midfielder and striker to sign as well as nearly eight players who all need to be moved on, the worries continue to grow.

As Mikel Arteta’s men gear themselves up for their first game of the Premier League season away to Brentford, work behind the scenes continues. Edu and his team will not be dogged by Arsenal fans for the next few weeks, ready to pounce on any potential slip-up or success, the question is, is Edu the man for the job?

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21/22 General New Contracts Youth

Kido Taylor-Hart Signs Three-Year Deal

Arsenal have announced that youngster, Kido Taylor-Hart has signed a new three-year contract with the club. The renewal was proposed by Head of Youth Development, Per Mertesacker and was carried out by Technical Director, Edu.

Taylor-Hart is another Hale End graduate tipped for a big future in the game, along with Arthur Okonkwo (who recently signed a new contract of his own), Joel López, Charlie Patino and Miguel Azeez.

Taylor-Hart is, by trade, a left-winger, a position that Arsenal are already well stacked in for the senior team, however, with Reiss Nelson’s future still in the air, Willian set to leave and with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s contract running out in two years time, Taylor-Hart could be an internal solution.

Taylor-Hart is one of Arsenal’s biggest young talents.

Last season, Taylor-Hart became something of a youthful polymath, as he played across two separate age groups. Initially, Taylor-Hart started off in the U18’s Premier Leagye, where he registered 6 goals and 4 assists in 11 games, a run of form so impressive that he was promoted to Steve Bould’s U23 side, contributing 4 goals in 13 Premier League 2 games.

Taylor-Hart has been with Arsenal since the age of 7 and though his contract was due to expire this summer, along with Okonkwo, he was happy to extend his stay with the team he has been a lifelong fan of even amid interest from England, France and Belgium, keen on prising the Gunners’ youngster away from North London.

This is yet another exciting move from the Arsenal executive team to tie down their talented youngsters to new long-term deals. In recent seasons, Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Martinelli, Folarian Balogun, Kieran Tierney and Emile Smith Rowe have all signed new long-term deals with the club.

The club have managed to fend of interest in Taylor-Hart from Belgium and France.

It seems fairly unlikely that Taylor-Hart will play an extended role in the team to begin with, as he will likely be phased in slowly, but with no European football, Arsenal will be able to focus on the league and also on the earlier stages of the League Cup, a competition known for big teams to utilise their younger players.

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21/22 General New Contracts Youth

Arthur Okonkwo Signs New Contract

Arsenal have confirmed that goalkeeper Arthur Okonkwo has signed a new long-term contract with the club. Though Okonkwo’s contract with the club officially expired in June, the youngster has since re-committed himself to the club, with a reported length of three years. Okonkwo joins the Arsenal senior squad this term and will take the number 33, previously worn by the departing Maty Ryan.

Okonkwo joins a list of talented youngsters who have since put pen to paper under the tutelage of Mikel Arteta, with Gabriel Martinelli, Bukayo Saka, Folarian Balogun, Kieran Tierney and Emile Smith Rowe all signing long-term contracts with the club, with Kido Taylor-Hart’s renewal thought to be very close too.

Though the signing of Okonkwo is unlikely to receive the fanfare that Saka, Balogun and Smith Rowe received when they signed new long-term deals with the club, it is nevertheless an extremely important signing for the club.

Okonkwo signing his initial professional terms with Head of Academy, Per Mertesacker.

In fact, Mikel Arteta is said to be so enamoured with Okonkwo, that he is considering making him third-choice back-up goalkeeper for the forthcoming season, although the possibility of a loan has also been mooted.

Another interesting point is that it’s not only Arsenal who have wanted to tie the youngster down to a new contract. A number of teams across Europe reportedly registering their admiration of the player and asking his agents to kept abreast of developments.

With goalkeeper Rúnar Alex Rúnarsson likely to be heading out on loan and a second-choice goalkeeper still yet to be signed, it’s not unrealistic to think that Okonkwo may be given his chance this season in the League Cup.

Arthur Okonkwo

Okonkwo is not the only young goalkeeper that Arsenal have tried to retain, with Estonian goalkeeper Karl Jakob Hein also hugely admired at London Colney.

Despite finally committing Okonkwo to a new contract, Arsenal still remain in the market for a new goalkeeper, with Sheffield United’s Aaron Ramsdale thought to be of interest, as the club look to boost their homegrown quota.

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21/22 Backroom Staff European Super League FA Cup First Team Friendlies General League Cup Match Reports New Contracts Premier League Transfers Youth

All or Nothing: Amazon Documentary to Look at Arsenal

Arsenal will be the focus of the famous Amazon documentary series All or Nothing. The documentary will cover the inner workings of the club across the 2020/21 season, giving fans an insight into the work behind the scenes and also and the kind of preparation required for senior football.

Previous All or Nothing documentaries have focused on Manchester City, Bayern Munich, Juventus, the Brazilian national team and Tottenham Hotspur, with Mikel Arteta contributing greatly to the former during his tenure as Manchester City coach.

The documentary series grants a rare, unprecedented level of insight into the inner-workings of the club. Though fans will be treated to seeing how the players and manager prepare for games and an exclusive look at half-time teamtalks, the documentary will also show the work of other important figures at the club, such as Josh Kroenke, Vinai Venkatesham, Edu Gaspar and Per Mertesacker.

The failure of last season was thankfully not broadcast.

The documentary will be filmed across the course of the season and will likely be shown in its entirety at the end of the season in May, exclusively on the Amazon Prime video subscription service.

All or Nothing: Arsenal will be produced by 72 Films, executive produced by Mark Raphael, Clare Cameron and three-time BAFTA winner John Douglas.

Dan Grabiner, Head of UK Originals at Amazon Studios said: “Arsenal is a historic club going through a fascinating period, and we can’t wait to take viewers behind-the-scenes on the journey of this crucial season. All or Nothing is about intimate access to the passion and commitment behind elite sport, and in Arsenal we have the perfect subject for the next chapter. We are looking forward to Prime members around the world experiencing another Premier League season with a new club, through All or Nothing’s signature quality storytelling and access.”

While such unprecedented access to the club is certainly an enticing thought for fans, it is nevertheless a cause for concern. Documentaries of this nature are almost always a “tell-all” kind of scenario that usually leaves no stone unturned and in the case of a disappointing season, often becomes a central hub for memes and unnecessary insight into the way the team works.

All or Northing: Arsenal will arrive on Amazon Prime in 2022.

There is also something sacred about the dressing room atmosphere. Mikel Arteta’s half-time team talks being broadcast for everyone to see, while fascinating, also provides people with insights into how the team works and what sort of tactics the team are likely to use, which is usually best kept behind the curtain.

Much like a magician revealing how he did his trick, some things are perhaps left behind the scenes.

We are looking forward to giving our fans around the world a unique insight into how we work day to day. We have one of the biggest global followings in the game and one consistent thing we hear from fans is their desire to see more about what happens behind closed doors at the club, All or Nothing will give our fans and sport lovers an opportunity to learn more about what makes Arsenal such a special club, our trophy laden history and our ambitions for future success.”

Mark Gonnella – Arsenal’s Media and Communications Director

However, one fascinating question remains, who will narrate the series? Manchester City’s documentary had Ben Kinglsey, where Tottenham had Tom Hardy, so who will narrate Arsenal’s?

Arsenal are not short on celebrity fans, with JAY-Z, Piers Morgan, Dido, Idris Elba, Roger Daltry, Prince Harry, Roger Waters, Mick Jagger and the Queen are all Arsenal fans, though any royal inclusion seems unlikely, if not impossible.

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21/22 First Team General Transfers Youth

Mattéo Guendouzi Joins Marseille

Arsenal ave confirmed that midfielder Mattéo Guendouzi, will join French team Marseille on loan with an obligation to purchase the player next summer for £10m.

Before leaving the club, Arsenal have taken up the chance to extend Guendouzi’s deal with the club for an extra year before allowing him to leave.

The reason for this, is because under the terms of his current deal, Guendouzi only has 12 months remaining on his deal before he becomes a free agent next summer. Desperate to extract some value for the talented midfielder before he leaves, Arsenal have taken up the clause in his contract to have his contract extended by a further year.

This seems to have become a fashionable contract choice for Arsenal in recent years (especially under former contracts negotiator, Huss Fahmy), with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, David Luiz, Willian, Gabriel Martinelli and Bukayo Saka all signing similar deals in recent years, that provides the club with a little more wriggle room in situations like these.

The game that effectively ended Guendouzi’s Arsenal career.

The fee will no doubt be a disappointment to Arsenal fans, who perhaps expected a greater yield for a player with as much promise as Guendouzi. However, given the troubled midfielder’s current situation it is not surprising to see the reported fee as low as it is.

For one thing, Guendouzi only has (now) two years remaining on his contract and when the initial loan deal with Marseille expires, he will have only 12 months remaining, which means the club can expect a small fee for his services, a fee which also serves as an improvement on the £7m used to sign him in 2018.

Elsewhere, his attitude problems and his and Mikel Arteta’s obvious dislike of one-another has led to Arsenal getting a substantially smaller fee than the one fans would have hoped for.

The club’s seeming desperation to rid themselves of the player, coupled with the player’s own desperation to leave the club has also likely weakened Arsenal’s bargaining position.

A hit or miss season at Hertha Berlin for Guendouzi.

Guendouzi’s form over the past two seasons has done little to endear him to potential buyers as well. A semi-decent spell for Arsenal was cut short by an on-field incident against Brighton & Hove Albion, whereas a brief loan spell at Hertha Berlin was marred by both injuries and the same problems rearing their ugly heads.

It seems to be the tale of the talented midfielder everywhere he goes. His stint at FC Lorient in France was marred by a breakdown in relations with his manager at the time Mickaël Landreau, who branded Guendouzi “complicated to manage and a pain on a daily basis”. This was hardly disproven at Arsenal, when an off-field incident in Dubai as coupled with the aforementioned issue against Brighton.

His time at Hertha Berlin was hardly a roaring success either, with Hertha boss Pal Dardai saying “It’s like puberty for him, he’s kind of a rebel. He has to work and learn like an animal.”, which was also coupled with a furious debate with teammate Matheus Cunha at half-time during a 1-4 home defeat to Werder Bremen.

“Complicated to manage and a pain on a daily basis”

Mickaël Landreau, Guendouzi’s manager at FC Lorient.

Guendouzi’s talent is completely undeniable. He is fantastic in possession and his work out of it has improved too. However, his undeniable talent, which could even see him playing for the top clubs in the world, seems to always be usurped by his fiery temper and a total hatred of authority. Everyone can hope that he eventually grows up and learns to accept the criticisms made of him, but it looks as though Guendouzi may go down as one of football’s many what could have been stories.

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21/22 FA Cup First Team Friendlies Friendly General League Cup Premier League Transfers Youth

2021/22: A Look Ahead

The beginning of the transfer window has seen the usual flurry of transfer rumours swirl around the club as Arsenal begin their preparations for the 2021/22 Premier League season. The club faces its first season without European football of any kind, for nearly 25 years and now have the unenviable task of mounting a push to get back into the Champions League for the first time since 2017.

Preparations for the new campaign will begin on the 8th of July, when the Arsenal squad returns from their holidays, though there will be a few notable exceptions; Kieran Tierney, Bernd Leno, Bukayo Saka and Granit Xhaka will all be either on holiday or (hopefully) continuing their excursions at EURO 2020. Meanwhile, Lucas Torreira is unlikely to feature owing to his involvement at the Copa América and as he will likely be sold; meanwhile, both Gabriel Magalhães and Gabriel Martinelli are likely to miss the start of the season, owing to their involvement in the Olympics.

Arsenal will be without Gabriel Magalhães for a while.

Aside from this, there is also a hope that Arsenal will have new signings Nuno Tavares, who is expected to be announced in the coming days, following his successful medical in Portugal, and Albert Sambi Lokonga, who’s move from RSC Anderlecht edges ever closer. Also on the transfer front, is the situation of Brighton defender, Ben White. Though a deal is yet to be struck with Brighton for the England international, it is thought that Arsenal are likely to have the player signed up and a part of the first-team squad after the EUROs are over, though like Saka, Xhaka, Torreira, Tierney and Leno, he will likely require a holiday before joining up with Mikel Arteta’s squad.

Given the absence of Gabriel, Pablo Marí likely will partner one of Rob Holding and Ben White on the opening day of the season. William Saliba would have been in with a chance, though his impending loan move to Marseille means that Arsenal will likely only have one defender to choose from, two if White signs.

Manuel Locatelli remains one of the many players Arsenal have registered an interest in.

Meanwhile, Arsenal’s attention will also likely be drawn to the other members of the squad that need to be attended to. Lucas Torreira, Granit Xhaka and Mattéo Guendouzi are all expected to depart the club this summer, with the futures of Joe Willock, Eddie Nketiah, Sead Kolašinac and Alexandre Lacazette still yet to be sorted out.

Arsenal are unlikely to commit to any further deals until they have managed to shift one or two players along the way; not for financial reasons (though these will likely still help) but mainly to help trim the fat of such a big squad. Though rumours have persisted recently that the club has made an opening bid of around €40m for Sassuolo midfielder Manuel Locatelli, sources at the club deny that such a bid has been lodged, despite the assurances of Sassuolo president Giovanni Carnevali that Arsenal’s bid is “significant”, though Arsenal do hold a significant interest in the player and will likely lie in wait for the midfielder waiting to pounce properly if Juventus are unable to agree a fee with Sassuolo, however, given the relationship between the two clubs and the player’s desire to play for la Vecchia Signora, it seems unlikely that Arsenal will be in the running.

Rúben Neves is an option to replace the outgoing Granit Xhaka.

Though Locatelli would likely be a very attractive signing for Arsenal fans, Rúben Neves of Wolves is thought to be a more immediate replacement for Xhaka.

The new season is also likely to see Arteta finally adopt the 4-3-3 formation that he has wanted to play since he arrived at the club. This would mean that Partey, Neves and Locatelli (if Arsenal were to procure both players) would play in the Arsenal midfield. A very tasty option if Arsenal can pull it off, but given that Neves is likely to cost around £30m and Locatelli around £34m, coupled with the impending arrival of Lokonga for £20m, an £84m outlay for the midfield seems a fairly unlikely undertaking.

Emile Smith Rowe’s future remains a hot topic.

Another issue still yet to be resolved is the future of Emile Smith Rowe. Though Arsenal sources remain outwardly confident that the youngster will sign a new contract with the club, there is still a fair amount of anxiety among Arsenal fans as talks drag on even further. Reports suggest that Smith Rowe will not sign his deal until his holidays are over, however, the news that Aston Villa have made two seperate bids of £25m and £30m respectively is causing a fair amount of unease. Whether these are just inventions of an agent looking to ensure a rise in the wages that the club would need to offer Smith Rowe or are genuine bids, these are still worrying times.

Arsenal have maintained on multiple occasions that they will accept no less than £75m for the Hale End graduate, though Villa seem undeterred by Arsenal’s stance and may yet return with a third bid.

Martin Ødegaard seems unlikely to return to North London.

As for creativity, Arsenal are still in the market for a creative attacker who can relieve some of the workload for Smith Rowe. Mikel Arteta’s first-choice was Martin Ødegaard from Real Madrid, who spent the past six months on loan with the club, though the chances of Ødgeaard returning to Arsenal look slim, especially given his most recent Instagram post and with Carlo Ancelotti reportedly keen on giving the youngster a chance to prove himself.

Other targets have been mooted, such as Leicester City’s James Maddison, though his price tag is likely to be an obstacle for the club. There haven’t been any concrete links to other names, although the club’s long-standing interest in Julian Brandt, Houssem Aouar and Christopher Nkunku are known, it remains to be seen if Arsenal will move for any of them in the forthcoming window. Arsenal failed in a bid for Aouar last summer, though may be tempted to return this summer if the leaks regarding Lyon’s financial situation are true and if Arsenal are unable to land any of their prime targets before the end of the window.

Aaron Ramsdale is an option for a homegrown goalkeeper.

Then there is the club’s rather worrying homegrown quota. Though Ben White is likely to be joining, the club are likely to sell Joe Willock, Ainsley Maitland-Niles, Eddie Nketiah and Reiss Nelson this summer, which would see four homegrown players leave the club. The club have identified Sheffield United goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale as someone who can not only become the club’s second-choice goalkeeper, but one who can also provide healthy competition for Bernd Leno, though Ramsdale has mainly been targeted as he would provide additional cover for the club’s homegrown quota, though his price may again prove too costly and Arsenal make look elsewhere, with Brentford’s David Raya and West Brom’s Sam Johnstone both admired by the club.

In terms of the youth players coming through this season, Arsenal will likely hand more chances to Folarian Balogun, who recently signed a new long-term contract with the club and will also likely hand some minutes to Miguel Azeez as well, who has also caught the manager’s eye in recent months. Though it is unlikely that Arsenal will rely on both too heavily, they will provide useful cover for the future.

The lack of European football could be a blessing for the club.

Over the next few weeks, Arsenal will play a series of friendlies with games against Hibernian, Rangers, Inter Milan, Everton or Millonarios, Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur, which will provide useful glimpses at competitive football before the Premier League season starts on Friday the 13th of August.

The lack of European football in the calendar is a very unwelcome sight for Arsenal fans, but may prove to be a blessing in disguise. Without a European fixture taking up a Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday night, Arsenal will have ample chances to recover for their next few games. Small comfort, especially when the League Cup (assuming Arsenal get far enough) and the FA Cup fully kick in.

Arsenal will be hoping that Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s form picks up this season.

There will also be a distinct lack of experience at the club this season as well. Following the expiration of their contracts, Shkodran Mustafi and David Luiz have since left the club, but so too have Sokratis Papastathopoulos and Mesut Özil, both of whom departed in the January window amid a shroud of controversy. Though Arsenal have been known to supplement any younger signings with older players, the club’s recent transfer strategy suggests that Arsenal are aiming for younger players this time around and although stalwarts such as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette, Mohamed Elneny, Thomas Partey, Willian, Rob Holding, Bernd Leno, Pablo Marí and Cédric Soares are all on hand to provide first-hand experience for those who need it, it does look as though Arsenal will be entering the season with a distinctly younger squad than most of their competitors.

The forward line is also an area that will need to greatly improve this season. Though no major departures are expected, Arsenal will be hoping that Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who has been training in Greece with A.O. Mykonos’ academy side, will find form once more. The future of Willian is also one of great interest to Arsenal fans too as the Brazilian has already priced himself out of a move to Inter Miami, with club, fans and player all keen to see an end to the former Chelsea winger’s time with the club.

Héctor Bellerín also looks to be on his way out.

Then there is also the issue of a right-back. While Héctor Bellerín is expected to leave the club this summer amid interest from Spain, Italy and France, Arsenal will need to move for a right-back before the season starts. Calum Chambers deputised impressively in the position last season, but is clearly not the favourite to start there regularly. This could prompt a move for RB Leipzig’s Tyler Adams, who Arsenal are reportedly keen on. Adams’ ability to play as a holding midfielder as well as a right-back will make him a very enticing target for Arsenal.

If Arsenal are able to land all of their primary targets this summer, then a 4-3-3 shouldn’t be out of the question, but a 4-2-3-1 is a more likely formation on the opening day of the season.

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21/22 First Team General Transfers Youth

Kostas Mavropanos Joins VfB Stuttgart

Arsenal have announced that Greek defender Konstantinos Mavropanos has re-joined German side, VfB Stuttgart on loan with an option to buy believed to be in the £5m region. The move sees Mavropanos, who joined Arsenal in January 2017, rejoin former Arsenal Head of Recruitment Sven Mislintat, who championed the Greek youngster’s signing for the club four years ago.

Mavropanos has endured something of a slothful time at the club. Initially signed as “one of the future” under Mislintat’s guidance, he soon blew Arsène Wenger away in training, who was so impressed with Mavropanos, that he refused to send him out on loan.

Mavropanos struggled to maintain a first-team place.

Since then, things have not looked all that promising for the youngster. Since joining from PAS Giannina, Mavropanos has made only 8 apperances in all competitions for the club in four years. Following a fairly uninspiring period under Unai Emery, Arsenal felt the youngster’s future was better served with a loan deal.

Mavropanos was subsequently loaned to 2. Bundesliga side, Nürnberg, where he played 12 games overall. Though his time was somewhat marred by injuries, there was a still a decent player to be seen when he was able to get on the pitch and it was for that reason that Arsenal extended Mavropanos’ deal before he left last summer to join VfB Stuttgart on loan.

Mavropanos’ loan spell at Stuttgart showed his maturity as a player and how much he can be of benefit to a team. But as with so many young players, Mavropanos’ time in football has been marred with injuries.

His performances at Stuttgart have caught the eye of former Head of Recruitment, Sven Mislintat.

His time at Arsenal seems to have been cut short because of said injuries and Mikel Arteta clearly doesn’t seem to see as much of the good sides of the player as others do and with Rob Holding and William Saliba both looking likely to contend for the starting spot next year, not to mention the club’s vested interest in Brighton defender Ben White, Mavropanos would likely struggle for much game time.

It’s a shame to see a talented youngster leave, but it seems to be for the best. Mavropanos never fully settled at the club and there are likely other defenders that will be more important to the club in the future. Despite this, everyone obviously hopes that Mavropanos can kick on and show the world just how good he really is at Stuttgart.

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First Team General Transfers Youth

Albert Sami Lokonga: A Statistical Argument

Getting recommended to one of the biggest clubs in the world by one of the greatest strikers to have ever graced the game is no small feat, yet that is the situation that Albert Sambi Lokonga finds himself in.

As the transfer window is now well underway, Arsenal’s need for a midfielder grows ever stronger. With Mattéo Guendouzi poised to move to Marseille, Granit Xhaka deep in negotiations with Roma and Lucas Torreira reportedly of interest to both Atlético Madrid and Sevilla, Arsenal will soon need to address their midfield issues.

While a move for a midfielder is likely contingent on Arsenal shifting some midfielders, the news broke on Tuesday that Arsenal had had an initial, opening bid of €15m rejected for Anderlecht midfielder, Albert Sambi Lokonga.

Lokonga (second player from the left) was recommended to the club by Thierry Henry (far left).

Lokonga’s name has been mentioned a fair bit this season, with the news that former captain Thierry Henry, who has worked extensively with Lokonga in the Belgium set-up, had personally suggested him to the recruitment team.

While Henry’s recommendation has certainly grabbed the headlines, it is unknown to many that Arsenal had in fact been extensively scouting the Belgian midfielder well before Henry made his recommendation. Edu’s harrying of the recruitment team last summer has seen Arsenal adopt a more analytical approach to first-team recruitment akin to Liverpool’s set-up under Michael Edwards, and the new model has allowed Arsenal to target more promising players who will hold-up under a provisional scouting trip as well as having the raw data to back them up.

Lokonga made 27 apperances in the Belgian First Division A last season, grabbing three goals and two assists. While these stats are unlikely to set the world on fire for fans who had hoped that the club were bringing in the Belgian equivalent of Bruno Fernandes, it’s his other stats where things get interesting.

Lokonga has been a target of Arsenal’s for a while now.

While the statistics available from the Belgian league are not as in-depth as those available in the Premier League, we can still see Lokonga’s performance stats have looked to be intriguing.

Lokonga manages 0.9 key passes every match, roughly 63 passes-per-match and has a pass success rate of 85.8% which is a high stat considering Lokonga generally averages around 5 long balls per-match.

His tackling perhaps leaves a little to be desired with stats of 1.6 tackles, 1.8 interceptions, 1.2 fouls, 0.3 blocks and 1.1 clearances all per-match. However, given Anderlecht’s third-place positioning in the league last season and the relatively new learning period afforded to the squad under rookie manager Vincent Kompany, it’s perhaps not too surprising to see Lokonga stand apart from the crowd in terms of defensive aptitude in a way that someone like N’Golo Kanté does for Chelsea.

Lokonga looks to be the next big thing in Belgium.

It has been noted by fans and pundits alike that Lokonga generally favours a long-shot rather than waiting to get into the box. This may come as a bitter blow to Arsenal fans who have watched Thomas Partey’s skied efforts reduce air traffic around Islington on matchdays, even if Arsenal are playing away.

Despite this, Lokonga only really seems to average around 1.2 shots-per game, which seems to suggest that if he has not succeeded, he is unwilling to attempt another. Lokonga’s playstyle, coupled with the fact that he is the team’s main ball-carrier, means that he is fouled far more than most players in the team, with the youngster picking up 3 fouls every-match.

While Lokonga’s stats may not be the sort of reading that will have Arsenal fans salivating. Belgium boss, Roberto Martínez has already referred to Lokonga as having “an exception future” ahead of him, he has been personally recommended to the club by club legend Thierry Henry and it is thought that a number of Europe’s biggest clubs are keeping an eye on the talented midfielder.

Lucas Torreira, Mattéo Guendouzi and Granit Xhaka are all deemed surplus to requirements.

Given the likelihood that Mattéo Guendouzi, Granit Xhaka and Lucas Torreira are all going to leave this summer, Arsenal need to look to strengthen in midfield, with Sander Berge, Yves Bissouma and Rúben Neves all thought to be high on the Gunners’ list of priorities.

However, it is the departure of Mattéo Guendouzi that will likely see the Lokonga deal thrive. Guendouzi was initially signed as a gem for the future under former Head of Recruitment, Sven Mislintat. However, since Mislintat’s departure and Guendouzi’s falling out with Mikel Arteta, it seems as though Lokonga could be given a real chance to shine in the Arsenal side if Guendouzi does leave, as Marsellie and Benfica begin to circle.

Anderlecht are reportedly holding out for around €20m, a fee which seems well within Arsenal’s grasp, but looking at his stats, there is plenty to build off, so €20m could prove to be a bargain.