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Thoughts on Arsenal’s Potential Departures to Italy

 

Lucas Torreira attempting to pick up Sokratis is exactly the level of  ambition I aspire for in 2020. : Gunners

Football, first and foremost, is a business with dealings in the transfer window playing a major role in the club’s finances. Arsenal is no different as the club swiftly swooped for Chelsea’s experienced maverick, Willian, on a free transfer before signing the highly-coveted center back, Gabriel Magalhaes, and securing a successive loan spell for midfield maestro, Dani Ceballos. 

There are some departures that have been expected with the Italian Serie A being the expected destination.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan

With some additions, it only makes sense to expect some departures and the goodbye wagon started rolling with the club confirming the departure of Henrikh Mkhitaryan to AS Roma by mutual consent.

The decision to swap the Armenian attacking midfielder with Alexis Sanchez remains one of the most puzzling deals in football history, bearing in mind that Arsenal rejected a lucrative offer from Manchester City to sign the Chilean forward. Mkhitaryan joined the squad with a fat pay check and was quite inconsistent and underwhelming for a player of his calibre.

Things went sour and he joined AS Roma on loan where he managed to pick up some decent form to the point they offered Arsenal 10 million euros for his services and the Gunners rejected that as well – only to allow him leave for free a few months later. Good business indeed. The only positive I can think of from Mkhitaryan leaving, besides watching him of course, is the wages that have been freed up, which will be offered to those more deserving, like a certain Gabonese talismanic forward.

Lucas Torreira

Switching from permanent to potential departures, it seems like our love affair with the diminutive Uruguayan defensive midfielder, Lucas Torreira, is coming to an end. He came to the club and offered us something we had missed for a while – that dogged, swashbuckling, hard tackling, combative style we craved and we certainly loved it, as he missed only four Premier League games from 38 in his debut season.

His second season with us didn’t have the same zest as expected and he even lost his place in the team to a younger Matteo Guendouzi under Unai Emery and Dani Ceballos under Mikel Arteta. This led to him voicing his thoughts about not playing regularly and giving green lights to his potential suitors about his availability. It is believed that Italian Serie A outfit, Fiorentina, have declared their interest in signing Torreira in some sort of loan with mandatory option of buying kind of deal.

I am certain that Torreira will not pass on an opportunity to return to the country he started his football career, having played with Pescara and Sampdoria before joining Arsenal in 2018. In as much as I would love Torreira to stay, I understand his sentiments if he wants to leave for regular playing time, especially with the fact that he featured sparingly went football returned in June 2020. 

Sokratis Papastathopoulos

Finally, we visit the situation of Sokratis Papastathopoulos who has clearly fallen out of favor with the manager. Despite the fact that Calum Chambers has been injured for a lengthy period and there were fitness concerns with Rob Holding, Arteta still preferred to feature full backs like Kieran Tierney and Sead Kolasinac as center back options with Sokratis watching from the bench.

The fact that he has also entered the final months of his contract with no hopes of renewing makes him a prime target to be axed this summer and his wishes might come through with Napoli declaring their interest in acquiring his services.

With their key asset in midfield, Allan, already departing to Everton and star defender, Kalilou Koulibaly, a long-term target for Manchester City, Napoli will want to bolster their defensive options and I am elated with the fact that the potential exists for Sokratis to be sold to them, even though it will certainly be for cheaps.

Sayonara.

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Players with Expiring Contracts: Sell, Renew or Release?

Players - Arsenal

Both players contracts expire in 2021

Players within the current Arsenal setup will reach that point when the manager, Mikel Arteta, will make the decision on whether to renew their current deals, release them on a free transfer or sell them without batting an eyelid.

Arsenal, like every well run business oriented football club, handed contracts to certain individuals with the aim of enhancing their chances of winning trophies but as we all know, it does not work out every time for some of these lads. Gooner Daily takes a look at those players with deals expiring in 18 months’ time and provide some thoughts on whether the club’s stance should be to renew their contracts, release them or sell them to new employers.

Dani Ceballos: 17 apps, one goal (2020)

Losing a player like Aaron Ramsey was a bitter pill to swallow for every Arsenal fan, especially with the fact that he does not feature on a consistent basis for Juventus. Raul Sanllehi pushed some strings and Arsenal signed Dani Ceballos on loan from Real Madrid, which came with some good buzz and fanfare.

We witnessed him dazzle crowds for his nation, Spain, in the Under-21 European Championships, and he even took the number vacated by Ramsey, so we expected much from him. Bar the Burnley game early in the season where he shone like a bright star, Ceballos struggled for fitness making him a liability to the club, than an asset.

Ceballos

Ceballos celebrating his only goal for the Gunners

We still have five months left in the campaign and the fans expect him to contribute to the cause but he has been an underwhelming signing thus far.

Verdict: Release 

Sokratis Papastathopoulos: 61 apps, five goals (2021)

At 31, Sokratis enjoyed a career where he featured in Greece (Apollon Petalidiou, GS Niki Volou and AEK Athens) before he moved to Italy to play for Genoa and AC Milan. The Italian adventure ended a decade ago, as he went to seek green pastures in SV Werder Bremen and Borussia Dortmund before Arsenal came calling last season.

Since his arrival at the club, he has had his good moments and loads of shaky ones as well, but Arsenal fans can not beat their chest in confidence to say that they have an awesome defender in him. With the exciting William Saliba returning to the club after his loan spell at St. Etienne expires this summer, folks know that Sokratis would live on borrowed time, till the inevitable happens at the end of the 2020/21 season.

Did I tell you that I loved his run out as a right back in the FA Cup clash against Leeds?

Verdict: Release

Henrikh Mkhitaryan: 59 apps, nine goals (2021)

Where to start? Oh yes! The worst swap deal in football history, to Arsenal and Manchester United fans at least. We believed that the talent and ability was there for all to see. This was the same lad that scored 41 goals and created 38 assists in three seasons at Borussia Dortmund.

Players Arsenal Mkhitaryan

We thought they would forge a good partnership

What we got instead was an inconsistent and underwhelming player that sat on his fat pay check and did not contribute as expected. Heck, Arsenal even sold Alex Iwobi to Everton and preferred to give Reiss Nelson and Emile Smith-Rowe run outs in the team, while shipping Mkhitaryan off to AS Roma on transfer deadline day.

I have thrown more light on the Mkhitaryan issue in a an article I published at Gunners Town.

Verdict: Sell (but not for that paltry €10m Roma offered us)

Shkodran Mustafi: 125 apps, five goals (2021)

No need to waste any comments here!

Verdict: Sell with a thanks for buying hamper for good measure 

David Luiz: 22 apps, one goal (2021)

Arsenal did not resume this season with any plans of buying a player from Chelsea, especially David Luiz, that had lost his starting berth in the team to the younger and more exuberant defenders like Antonio Rudiger, Kurt Zouma, Andreas Christensen and Fikayo Tomori. The club’s captain, Laurent Koscielny, for reasons best known to Lord Voldemort, Darth Vader and Chuck Norris, bailed out of the club he served for nine years, leaving us in the lurch.

With Rob Holding injured, we had just Calum Chambers, Mustafi and Sokratis as the only available defenders for the campaign and those numbers were short by all standards. In what I, and many fans would regard as a surprise, Arsenal snapped up David Luiz from Chelsea.

We are already aware of his limitations as a player, and we commend him for the decent shift he has put this season but we are certain he would not be a Gunner beyond next season.

Verdict: Release

Mesut Ozil: 246 apps, 43 goals (2021)

Mesut Ozil continues to remain a divisive figure at the club but in recent times, his fortunes changed, especially with Mikel Arteta making him the hub of the team. I know that since he signed that whooping £350,000 per week deal in January 2018, the jury was out for him to perform wonders in the team but it ended in disappointment.

However, I see a different beast in Ozil and we are odds on to see him come back to his best under the tutelage of the new inspiring gaffer.

Verdict: Renew

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang: 90 apps, 56 goals (2021)

“I would also like to react to some of the rumors going around about me in the media.”

“People like making up stories and they should focus on what’s happening on the pitch. They talk too much and it does my head in!

“I am the Arsenal captain, I love this club, I am committed to it and desperate to bring it back to the top, where it belongs.”

Quotes from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, the year of our Lord, 2020.

Verdict: Renew

Sayonara.

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Thoughts on Mkhitaryan’s Injury and his Impact So Far

Henrikh Mkhitaryan falls to ground in pain

Confidence has been restored to the Arsenal camp following their impressive wins on the trot but there was a dark cloud over our silver lining when new signing, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, was forced off following a clash of knees with some Russian bloke with vodka in his blood with our dear Armenian coming out second best. It’s never good when a player indicates to the bench to substitute him because it clearly shows that he can’t take any part of that game and that was the case on Thursday evening with Mkhi.

Alex Iwobi came on in his stead and had a good game by his modest standards but we needed to hear the manager’s assessment (via Arsenal.com) of the situation after the game,

“Micki came off and he will be out for Sunday. He has a scan and the fear is that his medial knee ligament has been touched. We’ll know more about that soon. For how long he will be out, I don’t know.”

When the manager says ‘he doesn’t know’, he throws things into limbo and as expected, some other sports websites have been quick to give their own assessment of the injury because, you know, they seem to work hand in hand with the club’s physio, Colin Lewin. The Telegraph has reported that Mkhitaryan could miss the rest of the season and with the campaign having just a month left, they might just be correct.

That being said, I’d like to take some time out to reflect on Mkhitaryan’s fledgling career with the Gunners following his swap from a disastrous spell at Manchester United in January. 12 games, two goals and six assists has been a very good return from the attacking midfielder and the Gunners are right to expect more from him as he’s a player of immense quality.

Having Mkhitaryan in the side also relieved the creative stress off Mesut Ozil as the Gunners could also boast of another attacking midfielder that has a penchant for creating chances for others and it was good seeing him connect with his long time friend, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang with their collective performance against Watford showing the world that that bromance still exists. I’m quite happy we got a player like Mkhi for free bearing in mind that we wanted him a few seasons ago when he won the Bundesliga Player of the Year award scoring 25 goals and notching up 26 assists.

I wish Mkhi a speedy recovery and hope to see him on the pitch.

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