Arsenal set for huge overhaul this summer whether Arsene Wenger stays or not

james olley
Evening Standard

This summer will be a time for change at Arsenal regardless of whether Arsene Wenger stays or goes.

The Gunners are set for a major overhaul with many players reaching crossroads in their careers. Arsenal face an uphill struggle to finish in the top four and an absence of Champions League football next season will sharpen minds further over the futures of several players.

Players who could decide to leave

Arsenal have failed to make any meaningful progress in contract negotiations with Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez for months. Both players are demanding parity with the Premier League’s highest earners, which would mean at least doubling their weekly wage of £140,000 and £130,000 respectively.

Sanchez has become an increasingly frustrated figure at the club in recent weeks during Arsenal’s alarming downturn in form. Training ground disagreements have ensued and although Sanchez is thought to be happy in London, the 28-year-old will need a huge offer to commit his future to the club, especially if they miss out on a top four place. Chelsea, Paris St Germain and Juventus are among those monitoring Sanchez’s situation closely.

Ozil has always appeared the more likely to sign but his agent recently voiced concerns the Germany international has become a scapegoat for the team’s poor performances. Arsenal would demand £50million for Sanchez should he depart but Ozil would command a lower figure despite both players having just under 14 months left on their contracts.

David Ospina is also likely to leave having sought to push through a move last year only for Wenger to convince him to stay with the promise of more first-team football. Ospina’s chances have largely been restricted to the cup competitions, however, having started just one League game this season.

Arsenal are in a strong negotiating position regarding Hector Bellerin given he signed a new long-term deal in November but Manchester City and Barcelona retain a genuine interest and he will have been shocked by the criticism he faced at the end of last night’s 3-0 defeat at Crystal Palace.

Bellerin was abused by a number of travelling supporters as he went to acknowledge them at full-time after a loss in form that has lasted for several months.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has just over a year left on his contract but the club are keen to keep him. The 23-year-old is another to have voiced his frustration at a lack of game time and will assess his options at the end of the season. He has, at least, enjoyed a run in his preferred central midfield position since the turn of the year.

Jack Wilshere is in the midst of a hastily-arranged season loan at Bournemouth and although talks are scheduled over a fresh deal, the 25-year-old has had a taste of life away from Emirates Stadium and will attract interest from overseas clubs including AC Milan, which provides an intriguing alternative. Wilshere’s preference is to stay but only on the understanding he is a key part of the club’s future plans — that is difficult to determine until it is known whether Wenger will stay.

Lucas Perez only joined last summer in a £17m switch from Deportivo La Coruna and had hoped for a more prominent role in his debut season. The striker has made just two League starts and although he has scored seven times from 21 appearances, Danny Welbeck’s return to fitness has pushed him further down the pecking order.

Negotiations are yet to begin on a new deal for Kieran Gibbs, who has remained largely frozen out despite Nacho Monreal’s loss of form. He also has just over one year remaining and wants assurances over his future role.

Players the club may want to offload

Mathieu Debuchy and Carl Jenkinson are certain to leave with both right-backs deemed surplus to requirements (incidentally, a reason why Bellerin faces minimal competition despite his loss of form).

Arsenal also have players on loan aside from Wilshere, namely Wojciech Szczesny, Joel Campbell and Calum Chambers who have all failed to make the grade. Szczesny has enjoyed a decent spell at Roma but Petr Cech’s presence means he is likely to leave while Campbell attempted to force through a permanent move last summer only to end up at Sporting Lisbon on a temporary basis. This summer could be the one in which he finally departs.

Olivier Giroud is happy at Arsenal but the club’s potential pursuit of a striker could mean he leaves given he turns 31 in September but it remains more likely that Yaya Sanogo will move on having struggled to establish himself in the first team.

Players the club will try to bring in

As Standard Sport revealed in December, Arsenal have been monitoring Sunderland goalkeeper Jordan Pickford as a long-term replacement for Cech. They are also keen on signing a left-back — Leicester’s Ben Chilwell is among the possible targets — while Arsenal are also expected to be in the market for a centre-forward. Alexandre Lacazette of Lyon is a possible option. The Gunners arguably also need another top-class central midfielder and a centre-back — positions Wenger sought to strengthen last summer only to end up in this mess.

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