Arsenal can now save £38m on first Mikel Arteta transfer with two deals finally completed

Arsenal players Emile Smith Rowe, Thomas Partey and Eddie Nketiah
-Credit: (Image: Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

Arsenal once more have a new challenge ahead of them. Last summer it was how to build from Mikel Arteta's impressive 2022/23 campaign, and this time round it's about refreshing the squad.

Noticeably only 14 of the 25 players with a Premier League appearance played over 1,000 minutes. At Manchester City it was 16. Not a major difference, but four of the Arsenal squad went above 3,000 league minutes and none at City did.

Unlike it 2022/23, when it was injuries and the backup players that cost Arsenal in the run-in when it mattered, last term squeezed more out of the first team group than ever. The task is now to keep things fresh and to add quality below the trusted 14 or so players that make up the bulk of the game time.

How to do this with available funds not exactly flowing? Being astute is one way but replacing and selling is another. Importantly for Arsenal, unlike some of their recently more unsuccessful rivals, things have not gotten out of hand.

The Gunners do have a poor record when it comes to sales in the market but may well find it easier than most to shift those on the periphery of the squad. Their wage bill in 2023 was, for example, only £234.8million, which was a relatively small rise on the year before despite much more impressive results.

When the financial results come out for 2023/24 that number is likely to rise again and be much closer to the top spenders in the division. But Arsenal can save themselves in the market still and afford room to buy.

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It may not seem like much, but with the exits of Cedric Soares and Mohamed Elneny there is already a combined £6.7million off the books for wages. The pair played in six league games last season - although Elneny missed most due to injury, he was not a real candidate regardless.

They left at the ends of their contracts, not bringing back in any additional funds, but it is telling that seven of the nine players with the next most minutes played are all candidates to leave the club. Other than Jurrien Timber (injury derailed his season) and Jukub Kiwior, all of Reiss Nelson, Fabio Vieira, Emile Smith Rowe, Aaron Ramsadale, Thomas Partey, and Eddie Nketiah could find themselves out of the club in some way or another.

This group of players would form the bulk of the money that is available to spend as well. Arsenal are not as close as their rivals to falling foul of financial punishment, but their failure to sell will put a fence on just how much can be splashed on new signings across the field.

Not only would this group bring about considerable returns - Smith Rowe, Ramsdale, and Nketiah are all Premier League proven and worth at least £30million in the modern market, whilst Vieira at 24 and Nelson do have certain value - but they would free up wage space.

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Having already given enhanced deals to William Saliba, Martin Odegaard, Bukayo Saka, and Ben White among others, Arsenal have bumped their wage bill back up following the exits of bigger earners Granit Xhaka, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette, and Mesut Ozil.

Those on the possible out list would all create room on the wage bill. Partey is the most notable due to his reported £200,000 per week wages, which is equal to £10.4million per year. He only has 12 months left on his contract and not only would the club be keen to get any transfer fee in return for the midfielder - especially as they are seeking to effectively replace him - but he is still one of the top earners.

The others earn less but still a big amount for relative to the level of contribution. Ramsdale, who signed a new deal last year, is reportedly on £120,000 per week (£6.2million a year), Nelson on £100,000 per week (£5.2million a year), and Nketiah on the same.

Combined with a transfer fee it could be a timely and much-needed boost to the finances for Arsenal in a key summer for the club. Vieira and Smith Rowe are said to be on less than their teammates (£2.3million and £2million per year respectively) but are also still sellable assets without much of a role currently.

Kieran Tierney, should he stay, would cost the club £5.7million in his final year contracted, but is likely to not only leave but also to generate a small fee in return. In total it could leave Arsenal, before arrivals, with an additional £38.5million to spend on wages and transfers.

The issue is that with making such sweeping changes there is a demand to bring in players to fill those spots.