Despite a 2-0 victory over Brighton on Sunday, Arsenal just missed out on qualifying for European football to local rivals Tottenham.
The game will be remembered for many things. The return of 10,000 fans to the Emirates for the first time since December, Josh Kroenke’s first visit since the Super League fiasco and Nicolas Pepe’s impressive brace are all among those
However, what may well also stand out in the memory of Gooners as they look back on the final game of the 2020/21 season is the performance of Yves Bissouma.
Despite being on the losing side, the Mali midfielder was excellent in the middle of the park completing 93% of his passes and making more tackles than any player on the pitch – other than the Seagulls’ left-back Dan Burn (as per fbRef ).
It was a performance to remind Mikel Arteta of exactly what Bissouma has to offer and, if reports are to believed, the Spaniard has already informed Arsenal’s technical director Edu that he would like to sign the former Lille midfielder this summer.
However, after failing to qualify for European football and with the ongoing financial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic still being felt, money is likely to be tight around the Emirates this summer.
They recently paid off their £120million loan to the Bank of England but such is the dire state of finances at the club, the Gunners will likely have to sell players in order to justify the squad overhaul Arteta wants and afford the £35-40m that Brighton are set to demand for Bissouma.
Luckily for them, midfield is a position in which they are relatively well-stocked. Here football.london takes a look at a few of Arsenal’s options in the middle of the park who could be moved on to help fund a move for the Mali international this summer.
Matteo Guendouzi has been out of favour at the Emirates for a while now since falling foul of Arteta’s hard-line when it comes to squad discipline just after the return for project restart in June 2020.
The Gunners tried to sell him last summer but with no permanent buyers forthcoming, the French under-21 midfielder moved to Hertha Berlin on loan for the season.
Despite a decent start in the German capital, he hasn’t exactly wowed in the Bundesliga with Hertha coach Pal Dardai accusing him of still going through “football puberty” after yet more training ground issues.
Transfermarkt value the Frenchman at £18m and with just one year on his contract Arsenal will look to succeed in getting a fee for him this summer where they failed last time around.
It was heartwarming to finally see some good news for Lucas Torreira over the weekend as he picked up a La Liga winner’s medal with Atletico Madrid.
It has been a tough season for the Uruguayan both on the pitch, where he has made just five starts for Diego Simeone’s side, and off it, where he has had to deal with the tragic passing of his mother.
The 25-year-old’s father has stated that he wants a return to South America to play for Boca Juniors and Arsenal would be happy not to stand in his way.
However, the Gunners will want a fee for Torreira, who has two years remaining on his deal in north London. His value is around £20m and if the Argentinian champions aren’t able to pay that, then Edu will look for someone who can with several Italian clubs reportedly interested.
Some would argue whether Ainsely Maitland-Niles should even be on this list as for many his best position is at full-back.
If he were willing to commit to playing there then there is no way Arsenal would be willing to sell him this summer, particularly with the likelihood that Hector Bellerin will move on from the club.
However, the 23-year-old has his heart set on playing in the middle of the park and while that is the case he is unlikely to have a future in north London.
As an England international, who is versatile and has two years remaining on his contract, the Gunners will want to fetch a decent fee for the Hale Ender, whose transfer fee could go a long way to helping provide the funds for a Bissouma bid.
Despite his critics, Elneny has done a very good job for the most part when called upon this season.
The Egyptian is a popular member of the squad with great experience and the kind of attitude Arteta likes in a player. However, he does have his limitations.
Despite openly admitting that he would sign a contract extension if Arsenal offered him one, there has been no deal forthcoming for the 28-year-old, who has just one year to run on his agreement at the Emirates.
Considering the Gunners will only be competing in the Premier League and domestic cups next season, if Bissouma were to come into the squad alongside Granit Xhaka and Thomas Partey, it’s difficult to see how Elneny would get too much game time.
If Edu can find a buyer for him then the likely £10m or so that he could raise would be a welcome addition to the transfer budget.
Having scored for the seventh game in a row during Newcastle’s final day win over Fulham, Joe Willock has netted more times than Granit Xhaka, Thomas Partey, Mohamed Elneny, Dani Ceballos, Emile Smith Rowe, Willian and Martin Odegaard combined in the Premier League this season.
On the one hand, this makes him a valuable returning asset who could help alleviate Arsenal’s goalscoring problems in midfield, but on the other, it also makes the 21-year-old someone who could fetch a high price in the transfer market this summer.
Steve Bruce’s side have already publicly expressed their interest in Willock and claimed that they will “test the Gunners’ resolve” once the transfer window reopens.
If Arsenal do decide to sell they would rightly be looking for somewhere in the region of £25-30m for a young English talent who has two years left on his contract. In itself, this could almost be enough to raise the funds required to get the Bissouma deal over the line.
Arteta has already stated that Willock is in his plans for the future so to see him leave at this point would be something of a shock, but you can never rule anything out in the transfer market.
Source by Football London