Monday, May 20, 2024

Arteta on releasing AFCON players, January plans and striker contracts

Mikel Arteta is resigned to losing Thomas Partey, Nicolas Pepe, Mo Elneny and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang for a big chunk of January but says Arsenal are still discussing when exactly they will be required to release the quartet for the African Cup of Nations.

The competition is due to kick off in Cameroon on 9 January but domestic clubs could start losing players from Boxing Day with Fifa rules stating “players must be released and start travel to their representative team no later than Monday morning the week preceding the week when the relevant final competition starts.”

While Elneny and Pepe have been on the fringes of things and Auba is on the naughty step, their absence means they can’t even be rotated into the team to relieve tired legs at the end of games.

Given Arsenal face Norwich on Sunday then host Wolves at the Emirates within 48 hours, it’s an obvious concern for the boss, who also knows a Covid outbreak could cause carnage at short notice.

“Obviously, they want them yesterday and we want them [until] next month,” said Arteta when asked to clarify who will be leaving when. “That’s the conversation we’re having with them right now.”

He added: “If you give me the choice, I want them to stay. We’re going to need them with the context that we’re in.

“We need them all but I understand that they have their obligations and we have to let them go.

“If the regulators consider that the competition has to go ahead, we are obligated to let the players go.”

Of course, if the Kroenkes’ magic money tree is still blossoming, there is an opportunity to recruit new players from this time next week.

Asked if he’d like more players to cope in January, Arteta replied: “That would be ideal but with the African Cup of Nations, we’re going to have many less, unfortunately.

“We’ll have to adapt. I don’t know how the situation is going to develop, we’ll be better or hopefully better [on the Covid front] because we’ll have more boosters and more people will already have had it. We don’t know.

“I don’t think we’re going to be able to sign players just for a short period of time [we presume he means loan deals] because of this situation. I think it’s a little bit unrealistic but we’ll sit down now and make the right decisions if we can.”

He was also asked if he might get financial backing from the owners with the aim of making a real push for a Champions League finish.

“They have shown us support and since I’ve been here, it has always been the case. We have tried to explain the plan that we have put in place, really openly.

“Instead of how much money we’re going to spend, it’s how much we’re investing in the team and the future of the football club. We’ll go step by step and every case will be treated differently and every situation differently. The ambition is only one, to try to be the best team.”

Understandably, he wouldn’t be drawn on the future of deposed captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, but he did admit he’d be open to offers for any of the players with just six months on their contract. Calum Chambers, Sead Kolasinac, Alex Lacazette, Mo Elneny and Eddie Nketiah (although we still seem to be trying to persuade him to stay) all fall into that bracket.

“It depends on every singular case, the player’s situation, the minutes he’s playing, his willingness or the offer he has, it’s something you have to consider.”

He also admitted that it’s not ideal having question marks hanging over three of his strikers. “We have a cloud. The cloud is there and at the moment, we’re not able to change it. We’re working on it to try to make it as small as possible and as clear as possible but it’s the situation we’re in because contracts, the timing of them is tricky. We’re trying to resolve it.”

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Eric Blair

Next two games are crucial. If we get the 6 points we’re expected to then we’re in with a real chance of finishing in the Champions League places.


Hope so, though still almost half the season left so plenty of time for things to go wrong. Our recent opponents have all been weak.

But hoping we can.

Timorous Me

Wolves will be pretty tough. Watching them play Chelsea, they seemed like a pretty well-oiled machine, at least defensively. And they’ll be at an advantage having had their Boxing Day game postponed–plus we could be without our African players already. I’ll be hoping for the best, but it means that Norwich game definitely can’t be a banana peel for us.

Nainsley Aitland Miles

True. A well rested Wolves will be very tricky, could be a tight 1-0 to The Arsenal job.

Norwich has to be 3 points. Though Dean Smith today in his press conference says Norwich have several Covid cases so I can see this fixture getting postponed if they get any more cases in the next 24 hours.

Really hoping it goes ahead though – despite the 2 games in 3 days for us – what is Boxing Day without The Arsenal.


Although Wolves aren’t playing on Boxing day so they could be well rested and have their first XI…….fucking joke we play two days later 🙄


I think our best chance of getting those 6 points would be to play the AFCON players (minus auba) against Norwich, so as many as possible of the non-AFCON players are as fresh as possible for Wolves. Start Pepe, Elneny, and Partey against Norwich. Cover at left back shouldn’t be a problem (because we have Tierney and Tavares), and if Cedric can cover for Tomiyasu for two matches until Tomiyasu is better, that would be great. In midfield, can bring in Xhaka and Sambi fresh against Wolves, and up front, should Pepe start against Norwich, we’d still have Laca, Martinelli,… Read more »


I’ve remembered this very interesting observation from Lewis Ambrose from January 2018, right before we signed Aubameyang: “Off the pitch there are yet more concerns and, again, they’re valid. Aubameyang’s time at Dortmund has hardly been a smooth one throughout and the club banned him from the squad last weekend for the third time in a year. There have been no serious offences but it remains something to take into consideration. The first misdemeanour saw Aubameyang sit out a Champions League knockout game after he had flown to Milan on a day off without the club’s permission. Nothing serious but… Read more »


Ah, wrong article, I had two tabs with separate news articles open, sorry!


Biggest spenders in the summer, let’s hope we can match that in the January window…


Sorry, I obviously got that wish wrong…


Sorry, I’m obviously wrong either way!!!

Lord Bendnter

Might not be ideal, but worst case, Chambers can also slot in as CDM if needed. Not ideal as he’s hardly kicked a ball, but the option does exist.
Otherwise, I can slot into CM as well.

A Different George



Tielemans Contact expires in the summer at LC. That might be an interesting signing….

Nainsley Aitland Miles

Summer 2023 though.


Said similar a while back- despite them having paid £40m I think realistically if someone offers the same or a touch more this summer they’ll have to take it. Maybe 45-50m, but their club revolves around reinvesting good transfer fees, so can’t risk losing him for nothing.
If not, I really hope there’s some substance to the Rentato Sanches chatter which seems to be entering ‘no smoke without fire’ territory.
He wasn’t ready when he first moved to Bayern, but he’s been exceptional for Lille and Portugal for the past year or so, and he’ll have a point to prove.


French league and a few good games at the Euros doesn‘t convince me that he‘d be a good signing.


Zakaria’s is up in the summer too.
A big Swiss midfielder from ‘Gladbach, what could possibly go wrong?

I’m personally not too fussed on incomings or outgoings in January. Even with the Auba drama in the background, the squad do appear to be quite settled right now (compared to this day last year), and our bench lately has been strong with the likes of Leno, Lokonga, ESR, Pepe. Granted we have been fortunate with lack of injuries recently. If, for example, Laca picked up a long-term injury against Norwich, we could have a problem. If we have the option to pull the trigger on a real quality striker – 6 months earlier than planned – then that could… Read more »


If we have a chance of nabbing Vlahovic in January, we should go for it!!


Agreed, but I definitely think we don’t. Guaranteed Champions League seems a minimal retirement, plus he wants to finish the season at Fiorentina.

A Different George

The AFCON format is 16 of 24 teams advance to the knockout round, so there is a very good chance that all of Egypt, Ghana, Gabon, and Ivory Coast will make it out of the group stage.

Thierry Bergkamp (Xhaka Out)

Ideally, we need to have the Norwich and Wolves games wrapped up within the hour, and substitute some key players


I have a sneaky feeling we might go for Haaland if we make top 4. Arteta has a way of articulating his ideas and surprisingly there will be an influx of strikers next summer. A man can dream of course but first top 4 please!


Harland only considers arsenal if we have UCL. And many other quality players. It also helps arsenal pay less in fees and wages since we have more appeal.


I don’t think so. Way, way too expensive in terms of salary and agent premium – greedy Raiola is there.


Keep dreaming. If Haaland is available there is no chance he comes here. I love your optimism though.


AMN can cover for Partey while Nketieh is keeping Auba out of the team as of now. Pepe is not regular starter and Elneny is backup so can be replaced by Sambi. Just my thoughts

Someone On The Internet

I would agree that with no further absences in midfield or attack we are ok. But with two games a week and a raging pandemic it seems more likely that there will be some more absences.

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