Sunday, July 2, 2023

Saliba hint, Xhaka resolution, Havertz role – 5 things revealed in Arsenal pre-season training

Arsenal will welcome back their senior squad this month with those not having taken part in international action expected back first. Others will begin to filter in after their extended holidays come to a close and the focus turns to the new domestic season.

There are new faces soon to arrive and the birth of newly established partnerships to blossom. The Gunners have already confirmed the arrival of Kai Havertz and deals for Declan Rice and Jurrien Timber are moving in the direction of completion this week.

However, there remain plenty of plotlines that remain left open. Potential outgoings, injury statuses and where the new additions could play all could be found out as training commences. With that in mind, takes a look at the top five things that supporters should be looking out for in any released footage from the return of training.

Granit Xhaka in limbo

Despite Granit Xhaka telling that his future would be resolved prior to the game against Wolves, we remain in the dark regarding a move to Bayer Leverkusen that has been touted. Even with an agreement with West Ham over a price for Declan Rice and a move edging toward completion, there appears no immediate resolution to Xhaka’s future.

So much so that with a return to training looming, Xhaka might have to return to London Colney when perhaps he did not expect to. Xhaka started both of Switzerland’s European Championship qualifiers against Andorra and Romania and so will not be one of the first to return so there remains time for a deal to be done.

Folarin Balogun’s unresolved future

Folarin Balogun started and scored in the CONCACAF Nations League final against Canada for the United States and yet still where his football will be played in 2023/24 remains a mystery. He, like Xhaka, will return after the extended holiday period ends and talks are expected with the club over the next step in his career.

His goals on loan in France would indicate he’s ready to play regularly at the top level. But he faces serious competition in Gabriel Jesus and there’s no guarantee of minutes which could force him out.

That said, with him back to train soon perhaps he’ll have his head convinced to stay with the group.

Kai Havertz role

Kai Havertz was a disappointment in the end with Chelsea, and perhaps much of that was down to how he was used. Many have touted his switch to Arsenal to see a return to midfield and to partner Martin Odegaard in the middle.

Images in training are sure to reveal if indeed he is being used in something of a midfield role. Although it will be tricky to confirm until we get into the pre-season fixtures.

William Saliba and Takehiro Tomiyasu’s return

Both William Saliba and Takehiro Tomiyasu missed the end of last season with serious injuries to their back and knee respectively. Mikel Arteta was asked if the Frenchman would be ready for pre-season and replied: “It’s probably too early to say. I think he’s evolving the right way, the last few weeks have been much more positive than the previous two months.”

On Tomiyasu he said: “I think he will be really close, hopefully, he will be around in pre-season like Willy [Saliba] to be in a good place.”

In short, training will be a chance to keep an eye out for the pair to assess whether or not they might be ready for the trip to Germany and if not the United States.

Youngster auditions

Amongst the excitement of new signings, pre-season is always a chance to see which youngster could make the breakthrough at the senior level. Only Reuell Walters was taken to the US last year, although several made the trip to Germany.

Charlie Patino’s future remains up in the air too, and there are likely to be further exits. Training should show though who is making the early step up to play with the first team and who could get their place on the plane.

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