With only five points separating fourth to eighth in the Premier League, it’s far too early to be making definitive plans for next season, however, Mikel Arteta admits, he and Edu will have to be active in the transfer window if the club qualifies for Europe.
The Gunners currently have 18 outfield players in the first team squad and the manager says that’s four short of where he’d ideally like to be if he’s tackling competitions on four fronts.
While Academy youngsters will stake their claim for a promotion, it’s clear that with several players out of contract, we’re facing a busy summer on the recruitment front.
“I am expecting so, yes,” said Arteta when quizzed on the topic.
“I think both competitions [the Champions League and Europa League] require a much larger squad because the amount of games you play is much bigger in both, so I don’t think [which you qualify for] makes a lot of difference or changes a lot.
“If you can financially afford it and we don’t have to do the turnaround in the squad that we’ve had to do, if you ask me what I want it’s 22 outfield players and three goalkeepers.
“You have to come a long way in the aspects that you see on the pitch, it’s a lot of things that have to be put in place, and that takes time.”
Since the turn of the year, the Gunners have regularly included teenagers amongst the substitutes. Even though they’ve not been thrust into action, the club are keen to prime them for future opportunities by giving them a taste of a first team matchday experience.
“It is part of the project and it is part of our DNA,” said Arteta.
“Our academy players have to have opportunities in this club and we want to give them opportunities. But we have to give them when they are ready. We will decide, depending on the game, whether or not they are ready to take that next step.
“When I see them closer I will tell you if they are ready!”