Arsenal ‘closing in’ on first stage of Mikel Arteta’s public transfer pledge

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Mikel Arteta was under no illusions about the kind of window facing Arsenal this summer.

“The squad needs changing,” the Spaniard said weeks before the end of a miserable season which saw the Gunners miss out on European qualification for the first time in a quarter of a century.

“There were already a lot of changes in December, something that has not been done in years, but it tells us where we were. Things are going to have to change and the owners are going to back it up.”

But ‘changing’ the squad won’t be limited to new arrivals, as displayed in January, Arteta has no issue with moving on players that he no longer sees as up to the standard.

Shkodran Mustafi, Sokratis and Mesut Ozil were all allowed to leave at the start of 2020, while Sead Kolasinac was sent out on loan with his long-term future uncertain.

Mikel Arteta admitted Arsenal's squad needed to change after the 2020/21 season
(Image: Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

The Gunners are hoping for more of the same this time around, although they are looking for transfer fees as opposed to terminating contracts.

According to reports, Granit Xhaka could be the first man to leave the Emirates, with the Swiss international closing in on a move to Jose Mourinho’s Roma.

That deal could see Arsenal recoup as much as £20million with talks ongoing between them and the Italian club.

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Hector Bellerin is another that is expected to be on the move and it has been suggested he could fetch a similar fee to Xhaka.

Sky Italia have reported that Real Betis are trying to sign the right-back, while Sevilla are also said to be ‘on the case’.

And then there is Ainsley Maitland-Niles. The England international was heavily linked with a permanent exit last summer, amid reports that Wolves were ready to splash the cash to acquire his services.

Granit Xhaka could be the first of many Arsenal departures this summer
(Image: Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

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After much persuasion from Arteta, Maitland-Niles stuck around, only to see his opportunities limited again before joining West Brom on loan.

But with two years on his contract, the 23-year-old is hoping for some clarity and is unafraid to call it a day if his pathway to regular football continues to be blocked.

“If it works out it works out, if it doesn’t then kiss Arsenal goodbye,” he explained recently. “It’s been a long journey but a proud one at that.

"Maybe they still want to do something & things could change. If not, there’s always other teams.

“I hope I can get some clarity for me, as in the player that he sees me, the role he sees me in and we can take it from there.”

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In terms of incomings, Martin Odegaard remains the priority, particularly after the Gunners missed out on Aston Villa bound Emi Buendia.

Ruben Neves has also been touted as a potential target, although Wolves’ £35m valuation could prove to be a stumbling block.

Regardless, Arteta is showing what he will truly take to evolve the Arsenal squad and Xhaka’s impending departure signifies that he is fully committed to changing the landscape at the club.

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