Tuesday, July 25, 2023

Kudus signed, nine sold, Arteta's new assistant named - What Arsenal need to do in next 12 days

One way or another, the start of the 2023/24 season is just around the corner for Arsenal.

Of course, there is a debate as to what will be classed as the Gunners’ first game of the new campaign. For some it’s the Community Shield clash against Manchester City a week on Sunday but for others, it’s the Premier League opener at home to Nottingham Forest six days later.

Having lost out to Pep Guardiola’s side in the title race a few months ago, the traditional season curtain-raiser does offer Arsenal the chance to lay down an early marker and establish themselves as the closest challengers to the Cityzens next year. But as this fixture usually has a pre-season feel to it, there may not be much to read into the outcome.

Whatever the case is, Mikel Arteta and sporting director Edu Gaspar have done a brilliant job to ensure the squad is raring to go with £200million already spent to bring in Kai Havertz, Jurrien Timber and Declan Rice. Not only have the trio been signed nice and early, but they’ll have enough time to integrate with their new teammates, and if last summer is any indication then the north London outfit are on course to make another fast start.

Now, after selling Granit Xhaka to Bayer Leverkusen, the Arsenal manager is in the middle of overseeing somewhat of a midfield overhaul as it would appear his first-choice trio when everyone is fit and available for selection is captain Martin Odegaard alongside Havertz with Rice protecting the back four.

It’s not lost on many supporters that this experiment didn’t work against Manchester United in the pre-season friendly over the weekend but it was the first time the trio had started together and with Arteta willing to give it time, the best-case scenario is an understanding is forged within the next fortnight.

Although, as a result of getting the aforementioned three deals done before heading out to the United States of America for the summer tour, the focus at present is trimming the first-team squad between now and transfer deadline day which falls on September 1 this year.

Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Pablo Mari are the other senior players that have departed so far this summer and there’s every chance the same fate falls upon Cedric Soares, Albert Sambi Lokonga, Runar Alex Runarsson, Auston Trusty, Folarin Balogun and Arthur Okonkwo whilst Marquinhos could do with another loan spell.

Interestingly, as per the club’s official website, Arsenal have two sets of players wearing the same shirt number as Nicolas Pepe and Nuno Tavares have returned from season-long loan spells in France to find the No.19 and No.20 have been taken by January signings Leandro Trossard and Jorginho respectively.

As the Gunners are expected to submit their shirt numbers for the season before welcoming Nottingham Forest to the Emirates Stadium, there has to be a resolution within the next three weeks and it’s likely that Pepe and Tavares will be allocated new squad numbers if they’ve not been sold by then.

If Arsenal manage to raise significant funds via player sales it would put them in a good position to re-enter the transfer market to strengthen even further and perhaps this will see a deal for Ajax star Mohammed Kudus accelerated as the Ghana international’s versatility would make him an ideal addition.

Lastly, at the beginning of the month, it was announced that Steve Round had left his position as Arteta’s assistant coach by mutual consent. Appointed all the way back in December 2019, the 52-year-old has been credited for playing an integral role in the club’s resurgence.

It is not yet clear if Arsenal will look to directly replace Round as they prepare for the coming season but if there are plans to name Arteta’s new assistant perhaps there will be an announcement before the Man City game or the visit of Nottingham Forest on August 12.

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