By the standards Mikel Arteta set for himself in December, Arsenal have had the perfect January transfer window.
The Gunners boss said in December that his priority this January would be to trim down a large squad, with a number of players running down their contracts on big wages without playing any football. One month later and he has done just that, while Edu has forged a reputation behind the scenes as a transfer guru, with Arsenal saying goodbye to eight players.
Mesut Ozil’s £350,000-a-week salary is finally off the books as club and player agreed to terminate his contract early, while similar arrangements were struck with long-serving defenders Shkodran Mustafi and Sokratis Papastathopoulos.
For Arteta and Edu to shift three highly-paid senior players before their contracts expire is nothing short of a masterstroke. Together, the three relieve Arsenal of over £650,000 a week in wages.
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And they’ve struck a few great loan deals too.
Promising youngsters Joe Willock and Ainsley Maitland-Niles will gain Premier League experience with loan deals to Newcastle and West Brom respectively. Meanwhile, William Saliba has been sent back to Nice for the remainder of the season having failed to show Arteta he was ready, while the unused Sead Kolasinac is set for a short stint with Schalke in a deal that one expects Arsenal will want to make permanent.
Praise is usually reserved for the big signings but Arteta deserves plenty here for easing the pressure on Arsenal’s books, shifting a whole load of deadwood and getting fringe players Premier League minutes elsewhere. These moves perfectly align with Arteta's project at Arsenal. He now has greater space to focus on nurturing youth and the players he has brought in to suit his style of football.
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And as for incoming players, they’ve also made two very astute signings.
Arsenal have struggled desperately for goals this season and Martin Odegaard's arrival on loan from Real Madrid will provide Arsenal with a much needed creative spark in a midfield overloaded with ball-winning players.
Arteta and Edu have also brought in Mat Ryan on loan from Brighton giving Arsenal a back-up goalie with experience at the highest level, with previous number two Alex Runarsson having struggled with the step up to the first team in Bernd Leon’s absence.
The ins and outs at Arsenal this month tick all the boxes and thanks to that they look a fresher outfit for it. Simply put, the Gunners haven't put a foot wrong this window.
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