Mikel Arteta says he and the club are trying to find solutions for members of his squad who aren’t playing as regularly as they’d like.
The likes of Reiss Nelson, Ainsley-Maitland Niles and Shkodran Mustafi have been conspicuous by their absence from recent matchday squads and speculation is mounting they could leave Arsenal this month in some form or other.
Nelson, 21, was a candidate for a loan move in the summer but decided to stay at the Emirates to fight for his place. He’s since made 10 appearances but without any game time in the Premier League since November, there are concerns that he’s not developing as hoped.
Speaking on Thursday morning, Arteta hinted that the door is open for the England under-21 international and others to find a club for the rest of the season.
“That’s a conversation we are having with the player’s that are not having a lot of game time,” he said.
“Obviously we want to keep their development going. We will make decisions in the next three days with some of them about what is the best thing to do.
“We’ll try to be clear and transparent about what the plans are and the roles in the team and after that we’ll decide the best thing for the players and the club.”
Having impressed at the tail-end of last year, so much so that he earned call-ups to the England senior squad, things have tailed off for Ainsley Maitland-Niles.
He seems to be paying the price for not having a defined ‘best’ position and looked rusty when asked to play at left-back against Crystal Palace two weeks ago. With one eye on the delayed European Championships that take place this summer, the boss recognises that the player is worried his chances to impress Gareth Southgate are slipping away.
“Yeah, it’s a concern when there is international football involved as well,” said Arteta.
“After reaching that opportunity, I understand that Ainsley wants more minutes. What he needs to do is fight, train and challenge his teammates and show us that he can be one of our starters.”
Arteta also touched on Shkodran Mustafi’s contract situation after reports surfaced that the Germany international was seeking to terminate his contract six months early on terms similar to those agreed with recent departees Sokratis and Mesut Ozil.
“Again, he’s another situation that is opening,” said the boss. “We’re having conversations internally with the player and agent and we’ll see what is the right solution for this one as well.
“We’re monitoring the situation, I cannot say much more than that. We have conversations going and we’ll see what the best [option] is by the end of the transfer window.”