Mikel Arteta says he has a clear idea about the type of players he needs, however, all transfer talk is effectively on hold until the summer when the club’s financial situation is clearer.
The boss has said repeatedly that he needs to strengthen his squad when the window opens but with matchday and broadcast revenue like to take a hit because of the Covid-19 situation and uncertainty about whether we’ll qualify for Europe, trying to guess how much cash we have to spend is anyone’s guess.
Patience is very much the name of the game, even though some sides, including Chelsea and Bayern Munich, are approaching things very differently.
“I have a very clear plan and the specificity of the players and squad balance that we need to compete with the rest of the top teams in the country,” Arteta told press ahead of Saturday’s game with Wolves.
He added: “We don’t know how the market is going to be. Obviously, we are putting different plans together to see what we’ll be able to do.
“At the moment, the uncertainty is still big, the way we’re going to finish the season will dictate a lot of things financially as well. We have to be a bit patient and see what happens.”
One thing is clear, Arteta doesn’t want to have to offload star names to top up his budget.
“We’ve seen different things,” he noted. “The way that Chelsea is dealing with the market is different to the rest at the moment. Bayern Munich as well are looking really aggressive so I don’t know.
“We cannot be a team that has to sell it’s best players to try to bring in and improve our squad.”
One of the areas of the pitch where we’re arguably overstocked is in the centre of defence.
Despite the potential of starting next season with nine players who could play centre-back, Arteta, for the second time this week, stressed that with some of those options nursing long-term injuries it’s difficult to say for sure if he’ll get rid of any.
“We will see. Pablo won’t be able to start the season, Calum won’t be able to start the seaosn. And I’m saying that when we still have nine games left until the end of the season.
“William [Saliba] has had injuries as well, he’s not been stable playing in that sense, so let’s wait and see.
“At the moment, we’re going to have options but we’ll consider the situation and what is best to do in the future. But we don’t have much stability there at the moment.”
On the subject of Saliba, Arteta was asked for an update about the tug-of-war that’s currently taking place between Arsenal and Saint-Etienne. The Ligue 1 side are desperate for the defender to play in the Coupe de France final on 24 July but Arsenal will only let him do so if certain medical requirements are met. There’s also an issue surrounding a bonus payment we might have to make if he starts the match.
“As you know both clubs have had some conversations,” said Arteta.
“At the moment they’ve not reached any agreement for him to be able to play in the final.
“At the end of the day, he’s our player, we want the best for him and we want to protect him and we want him in the best possible condition when he joins us. That is something that is being dealt with at club level.”