Arsenal: How Eddie Nketiah contract U-turn will change and boost Mikel Arteta’s summer transfer plans

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 (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Arsenal always had multiple plans up their sleeve coming into this transfer window.

Different factors have impacted them, such as whether they were playing in the Champions League or Europa League next season and whether certain players leave. Keeping Eddie Nketiah will certainly make Arsenal think carefully about what they do next.

It is no secret that Mikel Arteta wanted Nketiah to stay. On multiple occasions he has spoken publicly urging the striker to stick around, admitting he had not given him the game-time he deserved.

Nketiah finally got his chance towards the end of the season, capping off a regular run of starts by scoring five goals in seven games. It has led to the situation around his future swiftly changing and he is now close to signing a new long-term contract.

Arsenal had been looking to sign two strikers this summer, based on the thinking that Alexandre Lacazette and Nketiah would both leave for free. They would, however, also have planned for the prospect of Nketiah staying and the fact they made several contract offers to him this season is testament to that.

With Nketiah ready to commit his future, Arsenal now have greater flexibility in the transfer market. Before, they were burdened with the pressure of having to essentially revamp their striking options this summer. But now Nketiah staying offers some continuity and alleviates the pressing need for Arsenal to do all that in one window.

Signing a striker remains their priority and Manchester City’s Gabriel Jesus has emerged as their top target. He fits the mould of what Arteta wants from a No9 and has the added bonus of being able to play multiple positions too. The debate now for Arsenal is whether they push on to sign a second striker.

With Nketiah staying, and being paid close to £100,000-a-week, that seems unlikely, although there could be a temptation for them to target a more physical frontman in the mould of Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Tammy Abraham or Victor Osimhen.

Eddie Nketiah is set to sign a new five-year Arsenal contract worth £100,000-a-week (Getty Images)
Eddie Nketiah is set to sign a new five-year Arsenal contract worth £100,000-a-week (Getty Images)

That, however, seems unlikely given that Nketiah has agreed to stay and stressed repeatedly that any decision would be based around playing time. Before, the budget looked like it would need to be largely spent on the forward line, whereas now funds can be spread elsewhere to strengthen in other areas.

A wide player remains an alternative option, particularly as Nicolas Pepe looks set to leave. The Ivorian has been a bit-part player this season and changed agencies ahead of the summer transfer window, suggesting an exit is on the cards.

Pepe’s minutes this season were largely reduced as Bukayo Saka played almost every game but, with European football back next year, Arsenal need someone to cover and compete with the England winger.

Cody Gakpo is one player who has been scouted, but he is settled at PSV and wary about leaving with the World Cup six months away. Bayern Munich’s Serge Gnabry has been linked with a sensational return too, but could wait a year until his contract has expired to assess what options he has then.

With Nketiah ready to commit his future, Arsenal now have greater flexibility in the transfer market

Full-back is another area that Arsenal may look to strengthen if they no longer decide to bring in two strikers. Their interest in Bologna’s Aaron Hickey is well documented and he fits the bill as he can play at left or right-back. Djed Spence is also someone Arsenal admire and he has excelled on loan at Nottingham Forest.

Nketiah staying gives Arsenal the flexibility to look at other options and, given how quickly things over the course of a summer transfer window can change, that feels valuable.

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