Mikel Arteta says Arsenal’s priority for the January transfer window is to trim the numbers in their squad.
The Gunners were able to offload Emiliano Martinez and Henrikh Mkhitaryan on permanent deals in September while a month later Matteo Guendouzi and Lucas Torreira departed on loan.
But forgotten man Mesut Ozil remained at the Emirates along with Shkodran Mustafi and Sead Kolasinac, who have barely featured in the Premier League this season.
Really happy for all our youngsters today – playing with pride & no fear❤️👏🏼 Crucial 3 points! #YaGunnersYa
— Mesut Özil (@MesutOzil1088) December 26, 2020
Arsenal have been linked with a loan move for Real Madrid playmaker Isco next month, but first of all technical director Edu will attempt to raise funds by moving on those who are surplus to requirements.
“We have a large squad and we knew that. A lot of things that should have happened in the summer, we cannot accomplish for different reasons,” Arteta said ahead of Saturday’s trip to West Brom.
“There are some players that are going to go on loan and going to leave and that is the priority at the moment.
“We cannot sustain the numbers that we have in certain positions and we are looking to do that, and then we will see if we have the right opportunity in the positions where we need some more help.”
Arteta was quizzed on reports which suggested Kolasinac was close to a move to Schalke, but he responded:” There are some conversations around a few players and whether we can find some loans.
“The numbers we have in the squad at the moment are really big, but again we cannot confirm anything yet.”
One player who is not set to depart is attacker Reiss Nelson, despite failing to play for the club since December 3.
It has been a stop-start campaign for the 21-year-old, who has scored once in eight outings for the Gunners this term.
The Arsenal manager added: “It is probably my mistake not to clarify the situation and what is happening.
“He has not been 100 per cent fit and that is the reason why he has been out and not featuring in the squad.
“He had a muscular issue. He has been in and out of training, but not been 100 per cent.
“It is a shame because I felt he was getting into his performance levels, he was starting to have some really good games and to build that momentum. This little injury has stepped him back a little bit, but this week has been much better.”
Bukayo Saka, who starred in Arsenal’s 1-0 win at Brighton on Tuesday, is expected to be fit for the trip to face Sam Allardyce’s West Brom.
The teenager was forced off during the latter stages of the victory after a strong challenge, but should recover while David Luiz and Willian, who both tested negative for Covid-19 earlier this week, may return this weekend after a bout of illness.
“He’s played a lot of minutes as well, but I’m confident that he will be OK for the game,” Arteta said of Saka.
“Some players had to come in yesterday to get assessed. After the game we had a couple of knocks.
“And then we have the players who have been through all the regulations with COVID, different individuals which I think we’re gonna recover for the game against West Brom, but we will see tomorrow who is available, who is fit and how is everybody feeling.”
Baggies boss Allardyce called for a “circuit-breaker” in Premier League this week to help tackle the fast-developing situation across the country with the new Covid-19 variant, but the competition will continue as planned.
Arteta added: “If you see the record since we started to test, it is incredibly positive and as long as we can we have to carry on doing that but obviously without putting anyone at risk.
“I think we have shown the system is working. In the last week or so something has happened and we will have more restrictions and more tests to try to be as efficient as we were before and we will see, but I think it can work and we can carry on.”
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