Monday, August 28, 2023

Emile Smith Rowe to Chelsea transfer, Gabriel doubt, Simakan deal - Arsenal behind the scenes

It’s set to be a busy final week for Arsenal in the summer transfer window. The Gunners have brought in plenty of players, but there is still plenty of work to do in the sales department.

Rob Holding, Nuno Tavares, Cedric, Albert Sambi Lokonga and Nicolas Pepe are all free to leave. Meanwhile interest has come in for Gabriel Magalhaes and Emile Smith Rowe this week.

With all that going on it felt like the perfect time for a Q&A with football.london’s chief Arsenal correspondent Kaya Kaynak. Here we take a look back on the highlights from Monday’s session.

Q: Hi Kaya, there’s been a lot of rumours around ESR and Chelsea over the last 24 hours. Are the club willing to sell or in fact have to sell if we don’t get those out we want to?

KK: Thanks for the question. I’ve actually got a piece coming out on this later today, so I don’t want to give away too many spoilers! I will say that it’s my understanding that it’s currently unlikely that Smith Rowe leaves Arsenal, but the door is not totally closed. The Gunners don’t want to sell him though and he is currently in Mikel Arteta’s plans.

Q: What’s up with Gabriel? Are they actually looking to sell him? Also will we be going in for another defender before the window shuts?

KK: Hey, thanks for the question! I think it’s fair to say that Arsenal aren’t actively looking to sell Gabriel. Mikel Arteta would like to keep him and he only extended his contract in October. However, money talks and if an offer comes in from Saudi Arabia that Arsenal can’t refuse things could change. It would be at that point when they start to look at bringing someone in.

Losing Gabriel, Tierney, Tavares and Holding, while Timber is out potentially for the season would mean that the Gunners have just five orthodox defensive options. Of those five Takehiro Tomiyasu and Oleksandr Zinchenko are both injury prone so it would be a massive risk. Speaking right now I’d be really surprised to see Gabriel go, but stranger things have happened in the final days of the transfer window.

Q: Any thoughts on targets for defenders? It seems we’ve gone from a position of strength (2 players for every position in a back 4 + Holding & Partey) to being a bit short now with Timber injury, letting Tierney go, and maybe letting Holding go as well.

KK: I have to agree with you, I think if Holding and Tavares join Kieran Tierney in the departure lounge as Arsenal hope, then they are leaving themselves a bit short, particularly as, like you say, they’re gambling on the fitness of Tomiyasu, Zinchenko and Partey who have all been pretty injury prone in the past. Personally though I think they’d need more of a right sider if possible. Kiwior can play in the role, if needs be, but beyond Ben White Arsenal don’t have much reliable depth.

Mohamed Simakan has been linked and I think he could be a decent candidate for the role. I’d also say that Arsenal have a very talented youngster in Reuell Walters who is coming up through the ranks right now. Walters can play anywhere across the backline and with Timber coming back, maybe it’s time for him to get an opportunity.

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