Mikel Arteta is reportedly looking to place three first-team centre-backs on the transfer list this summer as he looks to trim his Arsenal squad and reduce the wage bill amid the Covid-19 pandemic.
With William Saliba, Konstantinos Mavropanos and Daniel Ballard returning from their loan spells at the end of the season, as well as Pablo Mari’s loan deal looking likely to be made permanent, the Gunners will have a large number of centre-backs at their disposal.
That list includes Shkodran Mustafi, Rob Holding, David Luiz, Calum Chambers, Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Zach Medley and Joseph Olowu, along with the aforementioned Saliba, Mavropanos, Ballard and Mari.
According to The Athletic (via The Daily Mirror), the most likely candidates to be transfer listed are Holding, Sokratis and Mustafi, whose wages total a collective £207,000-a-week.
Making his way back from a serious knee injury, Holding has featured on three occasions since Arteta’s takeover in December, with only one of these being in the Premier League – a substitute appearance against Chelsea back in January. Sokratis also hasn’t seen much game time under Arteta, making just four league appearances since the Spaniard’s arrival.
Mustafi, on the other hand, is seeing more play time under Arteta than he did with Unai Emery, but it still appears that his days at the Emirates are numbered. The German World Cup winner has been the subject of regular criticism since his arrival in north London back in 2016 and is seen as a example of Arsène Wenger’s poor recruitment during his final years at the club.
Arteta has overseen an upturn in Arsenal‘s fortunes since succeeding Emery in December, with the Gunners unbeaten in the Premier League throughout 2020. They had won their three last league games prior to football’s postponement in March.
He has experienced teething problems, however, crashing out of the Europa League to Olympiacos. The Gunners had beaten the Greeks 1-0 in Piraeus, but lost the return leg 2-1.