Soccer

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta tipped to axe eight stars and complete three surprise transfers

Mikel Arteta faces a tough challenge of trying to stamp his mark on Arsenal this summer with limited resources at his disposal. The Gunners boss knows a number of stars will have to be offloaded in order to bring in any new faces.

Yesterday, Arsenal controversially announced that they were making 55 members of staff redundant because they have been hit hard by the coronavirus.

Many of the first-team players are furious at the decision as they took a 12.5 per cent pay cut to protect the jobs of others.

Arsenal icon Charlie Nicholas reckons Arteta is planning a mass exodus this summer and has tipped the north Londoners to bring in three new faces.

“William Saliba has signed and will start the new campaign which is great. He’s young, he’s fast but he’s still slightly naive when I watched him playing for Saint-Etienne,” Nicholas told Off The Ball.

“But we need two more centre-backs and I do believe we need a right-back. No disrespect but I think Sokratis’ [Papastathopoulos] time is up, I know [Shkodran] Mustafi’s injured so we can’t sell but I think his time is up.

“Rob Holding I think has been unfairly treated because it’s not his fault they couldn’t make him better.

“Can he reach the heights that I expected him to get to? I’m not sure so if an offer comes in, I would sell him.

“Arsenal’s masterplan has to be two centre-backs, cover in case Kieran Tierney were to get injured again – Kolasinac fits that but he’s not a natural defender – and then I see seven or eight players getting sold.”

Arsenal are closing in on signing Chelsea winger Willian on a free transfer as his contract expires at the end of the season.

Barcelona playmaker Philippe Coutinho has also been linked with a move to the Emirates Stadium but Nicholas is not convinced they are the right targets to be chasing.

“Sometimes they discourage me, I have to be honest,” he added.

“In terms of Willian, he’s a free agent so you can get him on the cheap, you give him a big salary and say: ‘Right, are you good enough?’

“This guy is a quality player, I don’t deny that but his age… and I look at people like [Reiss] Nelson, like [Bukayo] Saka that want to come into the team and do well and [Gabriel] Martinelli when he comes back will be a centre-forward so I don’t really see where the purchase makes sense to Arsenal.

“Willian as a free agent? Yeah, I can get one that because you want to build up a big squad and I expect Arsenal to offload maybe seven or eight players and it could be more.”

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