When does the sale begin?
By Sumaiya Vawda
If transfer acquisitions are sleek sports cars, unwanted squad players are old, energy-guzzling rust boxes on wheels; they work but you’d rather forget about their shortcomings and need for maintenance. To answer the article’s rhetorical title- the sale likely starts towards the end of the transfer window when teams are desperate, or perhaps when Edu runs out of fresh powder blue shirts in which to give signings a tour of club facilities.
The bulk of Arsenal exits have been on the youth side. Under-23 players, Omar Rekik and Mika Biereth, have been loaned out to Eredivisie teams. England youth international, Harry Clarke, has a loan at Stoke City lined up for the 22/23 season, while fellow defender Daniel Ballard was set to join Burnley permanently until negotiations broke down. Jordi Osei-Tutu has made his stay in Germany permanent and Tyreece John-Jules will be hoping for an injury-free loan spell at Ipswich Town. A few others have been released from the academy.
In earnest, there have been few links pertaining to senior players leaving Arsenal. The most notable departure is Alex Lacazette who became a Lyon player when his contract in London expired. Konstantinos Mavropanos and Matteo Guendouzi had their loan moves made permanent for fees below their transfer value.
There had been talk of Nottingham Forest replacing outgoing right wing-back, Djed Spence, with Ainsley Maitland-Niles. While sources are not credible, it is interesting that he may be lined up for a role he refused at Arsenal in the long-term. Héctor Bellerín seems unequivocal about his wish to remain in Spain. However, reports speculate that Real Betis would be unable to meet his salary and pay a transfer fee which makes that option unviable. Bellerín remains a talented player and Arsenal need to drum up interest in the player to increase the fee receivable.
The recent arrival of Matt Turner will surely spell the end of Bernd Leno’s tenure in North London. The German’s period on the bench should not detract from his reliability as a shot-stopper yet no queue of suitors has registered. Newcastle United opted for Nick Pope where Leno might’ve been the better alternative. Fulham has emerged as the most likely destination. That bodes favourably for Arsenal as the English clubs retain the strongest financial power. It is strange, however, that further progress had not been made on a transfer for a player who has already been replaced in the squad.
Growing links to Lisandro Martínez will enable Arteta to shed Pablo Marí from his squad. Udinese initially seemed to be his ideal transfer, but the likes of Lazio, Hellas Verona and AC Milan have more recently been linked to the Spaniard. Reports cite a transfer fee of £13 million but it remains to be seen whether such an amount (or any fee) can be recouped by Edu’s team.
Fiorentina opted against activating Lucas Torreira’s purchase option in hopes of attaining his services at a discounted price later in the window. His case is particularly curious, and like Maitland-Niles, he may be a victim of poor choices on his own part. The club have respected his decisions in the face of personal tragedy, but an outright sale to Italian side Torino would have been preferable when he chose to move to Atlético Madrid on loan. It’s a shame that Arsenal are set to make a loss on a player with a useful skill-set, but the club must still seek the highest possible bidder over appeasing Fiorentina.
Arsenal’s record signing shall barely be missed if sold. Bids for Raphinha further indicate that Nicolas Pépé will exit the Emirates. It’s been reported that the player has instructed his new agent to facilitate a move. Despite this, there have been few transfer rumours regarding the Ivorian, with the strangest one linking him to Manchester United. Greater efforts will have to be made to capitalise on his goodwill in the French market.
Reiss Nelson did not enjoy the career reset he required at Feyenoord. Therefore, a sale to an English club may be the best outcome for all. Arsenal’s multiple incomings may necessitate higher value sales to balance the books. To that end, Rob Holding represents a solid asset through which Arsenal could raise funds and it will be intriguing to see if Arsenal receive offers for him.
Edu and Arteta have shown promise in talent identification and player purchases over two windows. In contrast, player sales have long been the club’s Achilles’ heel. Working on outgoings is dependent on multiple parties. Thus, a fire sale at the transfer window’s close may not be the ideal way to fetch the highest prices, but if it is the route, the club must be prepared for flexibility. Hopefully, decent city cars are not sold at scrap value.