The Arsenal players with a long- term future under Mikel Arteta (photo)

The Gunners gave Mikel Arteta a three-and-a-half-year

contract in December but which players will prove crucial to

his vision for the club?

Mikel Arteta’s appetite for management has been clear from

the moment he was announced as Arsenal head coach back

in December.

Since then, this enthusiasm has rubbed off on everyone

surrounding the club, from fans to the players. With this has

come an improvement not just in results but also how the

side go about getting those results.

A key aspect to this turnaround has been Arteta’s man

management. The way he implemented his tactics and

patterns of play were to ensure he could get the best out of

each player on the pitch, with some roles more tailor-made

for players than others.

In doing this, he has somewhat shown which players could

prove crucial for him over the next few seasons at Arsenal

[he was given a three-and-a-half year contract upon

appointment]. With this in mind, assess each

member of the first team and whether they could have a

short, mid or long term future under the Spaniard.


Bernd Leno: A standout performer this season, Leno has

cemented himself as the Gunners’ No.1. for years to come.

His shot-stopping has been instrumental to the side still

having a sniff of European football. In the league, his displays

have remained steady but especially leading up to this break,

he looked fearless between the sticks and was key in turning

draws into wins.

His distribution still needs work – as shown in extra time vs

Olympiacos – but he is still an incredibly solid option for

Arsenal to have as a first-choice goalkeeper. Long-term.

Emi Martinez: Despite goalkeepers often able to play into

their mid-late 30s, Martinez becoming a first-choice option

seems far from likely. In his Europa League outings this

season he has shown he is a reliable option but it’ll be tough

for him to get Leno to budge. At 27-years-old, it wouldn’t be

a surprise if he started looking for regular first team action

somewhere else in the future. short/mid-term.

Matt Macey: 25-years-old with all his appearances coming

for the Under-23s this season, Macey being shown the door

when his contract expires this summer wouldn’t be a surprise.

There was promise he could break into the side in the

2017/18 campaign but without first team football in a season

[on loan at Plymouth] it’s hard to see a long-term future for

him. short-term.


Hector Bellerin: His 2020 may not have got off to the best

start but Bellerin will remain a first team option for Arteta, it’s

just about nursing him properly back to full fitness. This being

said, the Spaniard’s understanding of the new demands of an

Arsenal right-back will need to be proven. There’s no doubt

that he’d be given that opportunity, however. long-term.

Cedric Soares: No matter what happens with Cedric if

appears to be a quick fix. In on loan and even if the Gunners

decide to make his move permanent when his Southampton

contract expires, he wouldn’t be the first choice at right-back.

There’s no harm in him being in the squad but he wouldn’t be

vital to Arteta’s plans. short-term.

Rob Holding: Similar to Bellerin, Holding’s situation must be

dealt with properly. He has already proven he can be a

quality, first choice centre-back for Arsenal but getting back

to that level after his lengthy knee injury is going to take time.

With setbacks this season he has looked rusty but once he

finds his groove, he’ll be a good option for Arteta to have,

even if he doesn’t return to a first choice standard. long-term

Calum Chambers: Another player cut down by a lengthy

injury, in the first half of the season Chambers proved he can

be relied on at centre-back. The best performing and most

consistent defender at the point of his injury, seeing how his

game would have evolved under Arteta would have been

interesting. Now, the focus must be on a proper recovery and

ensuring he isn’t rushed back. Either way, he deserves a

chance when he is back and ready. long-term.

Shkodran Mustafi: With his contract ending in 2021, Mustafi’s

time at Arsenal could soon end. Although he has grown to

become a star player under Arteta, he hasn’t been shy in

admitting the possibility of leaving north London in the past

year. As his contract runs down, he’ll become a more

attractive option for other clubs and as the Gunners will be

stacked with centre-backs, he could make way. short-term.

Sokratis: Like Mustafi, Sokratis enters his final year of

contract this summer. It may be harder to attract offers for

him as he is ageing and for that same reason, letting his

contract run out wouldn’t be a surprising move. short-term.

David Luiz: Despite his contract also ending in 2021, Luiz

may have a better chance of surviving under Arteta. He has

proven key to Arsenal’s build-up play in the way he works in

relation to Granit Xhaka to move the ball upfield. Alongside

this, his approach to defending has improved drastically and

his impact off the pitch has also been impressive. How he

has helped guide Gabriel Martinelli and Bukayo Saka in

particular have been highlights for this. At 32-years-old he

probably won’t be a long-term part of the squad but a year

contract extension wouldn’t be surprising. mid-term.

Pablo Mari: His arrival in January had a clear purpose.

Coming in as the club’s only left-footed centre-back, he was

bought to bring balance to the Arsenal defence. With the

option to buy included in his loan deal, that could well be

activated as he did impress in the games he played for both

the first team and Under-23s. As the unique player in the

defence, he could have a decent chance of standing a long-

term chance under Arteta. mid/long-term.

William Saliba: Possibly the most obvious one here, Saliba is

going to be a player for the long-term. As it stands he has a

great base to jump from when he arrives at Arsenal but will

need time before he can be relied upon. long-term.

Konstantinos Mavropanos: Now 22-years-old, Mavropanos

could soon be coming to crunch time at Arsenal. There is

clear talent there but he proved in the Europa League this

season that he needs regular football to show a proper

account of himself. He impressed for the most part at

Nuremberg but another loan is probably needed. mid/long-


Kieran Tierney: Despite his injuries this season, Tierney will

prove a great signing. In his short time on the pitch, he

displayed a fearlessness and understanding for the game that

rightfully made him the first choice option. Having this much

ability and experience at 22-years-old, he should be the

player to cement himself as Arsenal’s left-back for the

coming seasons. long-term.

Sead Kolasinac: Like many in the squad, Kolasinac improved

massively under Arteta – despite injury holding him back. He

could offer Tierney great competition at left-back but with his

deal ending in 2022, a decision may have to be made sooner

rather than later. He has proven he can be a quality option

bombing down the left so allowing him to fight for his place

would be the best decision. Should the decision to let him go

be made, with Tierney and Bukayo Saka able to take that

position, it would be understandable. mid-term.


Granit Xhaka: Seeing how Xhaka has come to play a vital role

in Arteta’s side, he will be a long-term figure of the squad.

Although he was trusted by Arsene Wenger and Unai Emery

also, neither used him as well as Arteta has done since

taking charge. Instead of staying in the middle third where his

lack of agility has seen him exposed in the past, dropping

him into the defensive third has seen Xhaka truly take on that

‘quarterback’ role between the left-back and left-sided

centre-back where he has more space to operate. long-term.

Lucas Torreira: Having just turned 24-years-old, Torreira

should remain a mainstay once fit again. Unique amongst the

current crop of midfielders, his skill set is exactly what is

needed ahead of the Arsenal defence. He did rightfully lose 

his place to Dani Ceballos who excelled with and without

possession but it’s clear that the Uruguayan is the man for

the future. long-term.

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