Mikel Arteta says he’s keeping a close eye on Arsenal’s loanees ahead of big decisions in the summer about their futures.
Seven members of the Spaniard’s senior squad are playing their football elsewhere until the end of the season and a further 10 from the Academy are doing the same.
Given the state of the club’s finances and the eagerness to continue with an overhaul of the playing staff, it’s possible that several could depart.
Sead Kolasinac seems destined to leave when his contract runs out in July and big question marks remain over the futures of Lucas Torreira, Matteo Guendouzi and Dinos Mavropanos, Joe Willock and Ainsley Maitland-Niles.
There’s also William Saliba, a player who has yet to make his competitive Arsenal debut, who appears to be doing pretty well at Nice who he joined in January.
Asked about the Frenchman’s progress, the boss chose to speak in more general terms: “We’re having meetings very often to assess what they’re doing and obviously we’re getting all the information and watching their games because I want to keep a very close eye on what they’re doing.
“We were talking yesterday for example with Ben Knapper, who is our loan manager, who is in charge of monitoring everything we are doing, and we are in contact with the players. Let’s see.
“It’s good news that they are playing and it’s good news that they have the possibility to have a lot of minutes because that’s going to give us a much better perception of where they are and how we can use them.”
Arteta also hasn’t given up on persuading Folarin Balogun to stay at Arsenal. The 19-year-old striker has been offered a new contract but has so far turned down the terms. There’s talk he’s held clubs with a number of foreign suitors and will be able to join whoever he wants on a free in four months time.
Throughout the last few months, the boss has sounded cautiously optimistic about the situation and he’s not changing his tune just yet.
Asked if the player was distancing himself from the club – a question sparked by the player’s decision to delete all the content from his Instagram account – he said: “I wouldn’t say so. I think I am pretty positive about it and every time I spoke to him, he mentions the same thing, that he’s determined to stay here and he wants to stay here.
“He has some really positive conversations with his agent as well and Edu is in charge of that. He’s been spending a lot of time and energy to make that deal happen because it’s important for us to keep our talent in the house, and what we can guarantee is that we’re doing everything we can to keep him.”