Mohamed Elneny

Mohamed Elneny (joshjdss | Wikipedia)

It was another case of so near and yet so far for Gunners fans in 2023/24. Having fought tooth and nail with Manchester City and topped the table for significant periods, Mikel Arteta’s men took the race to the final day, only to finish two points adrift of Pep Guardiola’s men. Putting that disappointment aside, the 2023/24 campaign represented another step in the right direction for the club – their points tally of 89 was five better than the 84 of 2022/23, whilst they closed the gap to City from five points to two.

Similar improvement heading into the 2024/25 season could be enough to erase that gap entirely, but how to find those extra few points? The signings of Declan Rice, David Raya, and Kai Havertz worked out pretty well in 2023/24, and the recruitment department will no doubt be striving to repeat the trick over what promises to be a busy summer. With so many cogs functioning well, a squad overhaul seems unlikely. Nevertheless, the club have hit the headlines with the announcement that no fewer than 22 players will leave the club this summer.

That figure of 22 may well have seen Arsenal fans rushing to check the status of Ødegaard, Saka, Saliba, Martinelli and co, but no such illustrious names feature on the list of those seeking pastures new.

The Departing Players

Player Position Appearances Goals
Mohamed Elneny DM 161 6
Vivianne Miedema (Womens) CF 106 80
Cedric Soares RB 64 2
Sabrina D’Angelo (Womens) GK 8 0
Kaylan Marckese (Womens) GK 2 0
Mauro Bandeira (U21) CM 0 0
Omari Benjamin (U18) CF 0 0
Luis Brown (U18) CB 0 0
Catalin Cirjan (U21) CM 0 0
Noah Cooper (U18) GK 0 0
Henry Davies (U21) LW 0 0
Ovie Ejeheri (U21) GK 0 0
Taylor Foran (U21) CB 0 0
Hubert Graczyk (U21) GK 0 0
James Hillson (U21) GK 0 0
Henry Jeffcott (U18) LB 0 0
Tyreece John-Jules (U21) CF 0 0
Alex Kirk (U18) CB 0 0
James Lannin-Sweet (U21) RB 0 0
Arthur Okonkwo GK 0 0
Kamarni Ryan (U18) LW 0 0
Kido Taylor-Hart (U21) LW 0 0

Arsenal’s clear-out centres around the U18, U21, and Women’s setups, with the senior men’s squad from 2023/24 remaining largely untouched for now. Of those leaving the women’s team, goalkeepers, D’Angelo and Marckese, managed only eight appearances between them, but prolific forward, Vivianne Miedema, certainly left her mark, with an impressive 80 goals in 106 appearances for the Gunners.

Turning to the youth set-ups, possibly the most eye-catching name on the list is that of forward Tyreece John-Jules. Capped by England at U16, U17, U18, U19, and U21 level, the 23-year-old has gained valuable experience through a succession of loan spells and retains potential. Of the others, the goalkeeping duo of Arthur Okonkwo made the senior squad back in 2021, only to fall down the pecking order, whilst the highly regarded Hubery Grazyk is another to have been capped by England at youth level.

Most Significant Departures

Cédric Soares
Cédric Soares (Solent Creatives | Wikipedia)

It’s fair to say Gunners fans are unlikely to lose too much sleep over the names contained on the above list. Nevertheless, two members of the 2023/24 senior squad are now seeking a new club, both of whom have largely performed with credit at the Emirates.

Mohamed Elneny

Signed from Basel in 2016 for a fee believed to be in the region of £5m to £7m, Mohamed Elneny went on to rack up 161 appearances for the Gunners. Predominantly deployed as a defensive midfielder, he scored only six times – not fond of a tap-in, that six-goal highlight consists almost exclusively of curled efforts into the top corner or howitzers from range. Capped over 100 times by Egypt, Elneny never truly made a place in the side his own. Falling further down the pecking order following the arrival of Rice, he made only six appearances in 2023/24 but departs with FA Cup and Community Shield winners medals.

Cédric Soares

Initially signed on a six-month loan deal from Southampton in 2020, Cedric Soares provided cover at right back. Impressing sufficiently during that loan spell, the 34-cap Portuguese international signed a permanent deal in June 2020 – celebrating that new deal by sending a 20-yard-effort into the bottom corner four minutes after coming off the bench against Norwich City. A reliable squad player, a loan to Fulham during the 2022/23 campaign suggested his time may be running out. Returning to Arsenal for 2023/24, he made only five appearances but leaves with a Community Shield winners medal.

22 Out, Who Could Come In?

Alexander Isak
Alexander Isak (Reto Stauffer | Wikipedia)

Of the 19 male departures, it seems unlikely that any of the players would have made it anywhere near Arteta’s first team as they bid to go one better in 2024/25. However, the clear-out helps reduce the wage bill and, in the case of Soares and Elneny, frees up two places in the first-team squad. As ever, the most exciting element of the transfer window for those at the top of the game centres not around who will leave, but who could come in.

The summer transfer window may not officially open until June 14 – the same day a certain football tournament kicks off – but the rumour mill is already spinning into overdrive, with the following names linked with a switch to the Emirates.

Centre Forwards

As impressive as Arsenal were in 2023/24, if there is one glaring omission in the squad, it is the absence of a reliable 20+ goals-per-season centre forward. Bukayo Saka, Leonardo Trossard, and Kai Havertz hit 20, 17, and 14, respectively, in the season just gone, but of the recognised strikers, Gabriel Jesus scored only eight times, and Eddie Nketiah only six. With a prolific hitman likely to feature prominently on Arteta’s wish list, it is no surprise to see the club linked with the following big names:

  • Victor Osimhen – Napoli
  • Ollie Watkins – Ason Villa
  • Alexander Isak – Newcastle United
  • Ivan Toney – Brentford
  • Benjamin Sesko – RB Leipzig

Of that group, Ivan Toney and Benjamin Sesko appear to be generating the most hype – the former a noted admirer of Arsenal, and the latter unlikely to resist the allure of the Premier League. Watkins and Isak bring proven Premier League performance to the table but would likely come at a significant Premium, with both Villa and Newcastle likely to resist losing one of their key assets to a Premier League rival.

Other Positions

Boasting a nicely balanced midfield and the stingiest defence in the Premier League, finding other areas for improvement isn’t so easy. Nevertheless, it seems likely that Arteta will seek to bolster his midfield and attacking wide options.

Falling into the former category is Newcastle United’s Bruno Guimaraes. His loss would represent a devastating blow to Newcastle, but both Arsenal and Manchester City may be tempted to trigger a £100m release clause, which expires at the end of June.

Girona’s Viktor Tshgankov could be the man to provide depth and competition out wide on the back of a breakout season with La Liga’s surprise third-placed finishers. A bid of £25.5m would be enough to trigger the release clause of the 51-cap Ukraine international, although the Gunners could face competition from Chelsea to land the highly-rated Ukrainian.