A busy summer awaits at Arsenal, where contract talks, expirations and departures are likely to surround key members of the playing squad and staff.
Gunners boss Arsene Wenger is continuing his preparations for next season, even though he has yet to sign a two-year contract extension on offer to him. As it stands, the Frenchman is expected to stay at Arsenal, but reports over a power battle with chief executive Ivan Gazidis appear to be delaying an announcement on any possible deal.
Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez are the two star players who have less than 15 months left on their contracts, but there are a handful of other first-team players in a similar position, which leaves Arsenal transfer fixer Dick Law and CEO Gazidis with a big task on their hands this summer.
Goal takes a complete overview of the first-team squad and who should be kept, sold and have offers listened to when the transfer window opens.
KEEP AT ALL COSTS
Wojciech Szczesny - The Polish shot-stopper has spent the season on loan at Serie A side Roma, where he’s kept 14 clean sheets — only Marseille's Yohann Pele has more (15) across Europe's top five leagues. Over two years have passed since he was caught smoking in the dressing room showers following a defeat to Southampton at St Mary’s, but it is clear that the 26-year-old has since matured and deserves another shot at the No.1 jersey.
Alexis Sanchez - Chelsea, Manchester City, PSG and Juventus are all lurking as Alexis stalls on signing a new contract with Arsenal. He could leave on a free transfer next summer if he doesn’t sign — something that Arsene Wenger will be desperate to avoid if he’s still the Gunners manager next season. With 22 goals and 14 assists to his name, there is no doubt over who the most important player at the club is and it remains vital that Arsenal keep their Chilean maestro.
Mesut Ozil - In a similar situation to Sanchez but clearly more indebted to Wenger, Ozil will see a decision on his future made this summer. He’s had a tough campaign in terms of consistency but will likely play a key part in the climax to Arsenal’s season and it’s vital that the Gunners keep the German international if they have ambitions of challenging for major trophies in the next couple of seasons.
Rob Holding - The 21-year-old hasn’t put a foot wrong when called upon this season, albeit in the EFL Cup. A composed, intelligent defender who looks set to go out on loan to gain further experience, Holding is one for the future and remains a player who should be nurtured and given game time to help him develop. Per Mertesacker’s likely departure at the end of next season will surely increase his chances of featuring in the first team.
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain - Although Oxlade-Chamberlain is reportedly seeking to leave the club this summer, Arsenal should keep the 23-year-old who has yet to fulfil his potential for a number of reasons. Injuries and a failure to find his best position have made the Ox’s career at the Emirates Stadium a rocky road so far, but if he stays fit and manages to hold down a spot in the starting XI, then there should be no reason why he can’t stay at the club.
Jack Wilshere - Wilshere is in a similar situation to Chamberlain and remains locked in talks over a contract extension. Whether he decides to sign is another matter, and while a loan spell at Bournemouth can be deemed a success, Arsenal should give Wilshere a final shot in midfield to see if he can handle the rigours of playing every week. The talent is there, but Wilshere could decide to depart for a club who can guarantee him regular football.
Alex Iwobi - The 20-year-old academy product is a fantastic talent who has clearly suffered from playing almost every Premier League game for Arsenal this season. His profligacy in the final third needs to change but there is no doubt that the future looks bright for Iwobi and he will expect to get more game time next season.
Calum Chambers - After a successful loan spell with Middlesbrough, the 22-year-old faces a fight to play regular first team football for Arsenal next season. Laurent Koscielny and Shkodran Mustafi are the first-choice centre-back pairing, so unless Chambers reverts to the defensive midfield position or is utilised as a second-choice right-back, his game time could be limited. Another versatile player Arsenal should keep.
Olivier Giroud - Giroud has grown frustrated with his bit-part role from the substitutes bench this season but will almost certainly stay at the club after signing a new contract in January. He’s a capable player when on form but he shouldn’t be used as first-choice striker, especially if Alexis decides to stay and continue playing through the middle.
Mohamed Elneny - Described by Wenger as ‘continuity player’ who makes the midfield tick, the Egyptian international is a reliable squad player able to be deployed in the defensive midfield position. He’s disciplined, unlike Francis Coquelin, and rarely strays from his position. The Gunners should make sure they keep him in the squad for next season.
Granit Xhaka - Despite a difficult first season in which he’s drawn criticism from his own manager for a poor tackling technique, Xhaka has shown glimpses of his qualities in recent games. Clearly a player who is better passing through the lines than playing as a box-to-box midfielder, the Swiss international will be expected to assert his mark on the Premier League and Arsenal midfield next season.
Hector Bellerin - The Spaniard has tailed off since signing a new contract and speculation linking him with a move to Barcelona continues to prove a distraction. Bellerin can become one of the best right-backs around if he puts his head down and works hard next season. Transfer speculation will only continue as his performances improve.
Laurent Koscielny - Signed a new contract extension at the turn of the year and still looks like Arsenal's best defender. The vice-captain turns 32 in September but will be hopeful of maintaining his place in the centre of the Gunners' defence.
Emiliano Martinez - Four Premier League appearances, three clean sheets. The Argentine shot stopper should stay as back-up to Szczesny or Petr Cech and fight for the no.1 spot where he has more than enough talent to succeed.
Theo Walcott - Arsenal’s current longest serving player has contributed an impressive goal tally from the flank after deciding that he wants to play on the right-hand side. A total of 19 goals in 32 appearances makes him a worthy contender for the Gunners' Player of the Season and his experience makes him an important player to keep in the squad next campaign.
Shkodran Mustafi - 21 games unbeaten at the start of Mustafi’s Arsenal career almost certainly masked a few of his own defensive deficiencies. However, at 24-years-old the odd mistake is expected and he has generally looked solid when called upon. A first full season in the English top flight has given him the knowledge to push on and more will be expected of him next season.
Santi Cazorla - Cazorla has played just 11 times this season due to injury. It's understood that there are concerns that the Spaniard’s Achilles issues could reoccur and it’s unlikely he will be able to start a large number of games next season. His experience on or off the pitch is vital, but Arsenal have missed the ambidextrous midfielder’s skilful technique and ability to control the midfield this season. In what is likely to be Cazorla's final season at the club, Arsenal will hope that his fitness issues of the past don’t come back to haunt him.
OPEN TO OFFERS
Nacho Monreal - The left-back is 31-years-old and appears to be on the decline judging from his performance this season. His experience could prove important for Arsenal next season but it’s likely that he club will listen to offers if an interested party makes an approach.
Lucas Perez - Perez has spoken publicly about his frustration at not playing regular football after joining Arsenal from Deportivo last summer. It’s understood he will seek to leave the club as he believes his chances of featuring for Spain at the 2018 World Cup are likely to be affected unless he leaves the Gunners.
Gabriel - The Brazilian defender has yet to master the English language and his role as a utility player makes him a dispensable member of the squad. With the likes of Holding and Chambers both returning from their loan spells, an exit from Arsenal would make sense for the former Villarreal man.
Petr Cech - Having picked up the Golden Glove award last season, Cech has seen his performances decline over the past few months. He has been beaten at his near post several times while he looks suspect at dealing with crosses. Coming to the end of a glittering career, the Czech shot-stopper is a player who Arsenal could afford to let go this summer.
Jeff Reine-Adelaide - The French youngster has failed to stamp his mark on the EFL Cup games he's been in this season. A versatile attacking midfielder who can play on either wing, Reine-Adelaide could go out on loan next season but a long-term future at Arsenal appears unlikely.
Joel Campbell - Loaned to Portuguese giants Sporting for the season, Campbell is another player who has struggled to forge a place in the Arsenal starting XI. He’ll return for pre-season training but a move away from the club wouldn’t be too much of a surprise.
Danny Welbeck - Another injury-prone player who can't be considered an indispensable member of the squad. Welbeck has some superb attacking qualities, but at 26-years-old he isn't good enough to be starting week in, week out, for Arsenal and is wasteful in front of goal.
Per Mertesacker - The Arsenal captain has signed a new contract and is expected to play only a handful of games next season. Mertesacker's experience and leadership qualities are the main aspect of his game keeping him at the club.
PACK YOUR BAGS - YOU'RE OFF!
Yaya Sanogo - The Frenchman has spent the whole season on the sidelines with a 'confidential' injury. Now fit and training regularly with the first team, Sanogo will find first-team opportunties impossible to come by unless a plethora of forward options are ruled out through injury.
Aaron Ramsey - Ramsey wants to play in the ‘No.10’ role and he won’t be deployed there under Wenger. The Welshman should look elsewhere for regular first-team opportunities and at 26-years-old it’s vital that he makes a decision which will help his career progression.
Francis Coquelin - Coquelin is a limited player who looked good alongside Cazorla last season. Without the Spaniard next to him in midfield his lack of positional awareness and discipline has made him a liability in key matches for Arsenal.
Kieran Gibbs - The second-choice left-back is expected to begin talks over a contract extension soon, but he'd be better off leaving for regular first-team football elsewhere. A move away from Arsenal makes sense for a player who has had injury troubles and struggled to hold down a starting spot throughout his career.
Carl Jenkinson - Jenkinson came close to joining Crystal Palace in January, only for the move to fall through. He will almost certainly leave the club this summer if a viable offer comes in, with Wenger happy for the fullback to leave.
Chuba Akpom - An unsuccessful loan spell at Brighton saw him booed off during a recent Championship match. Questions over his attitude have been raised again and the Nigerian is so far down in the pecking order it is only a matter of time before he departs the north London side.
Mathieu Debuchy - Another player who is simply waiting for the transfer window to reopen before he leaves Arsenal. A competent right-back and good enough to start for most Premier League sides, Debuchy has been displaced by the impressive Bellerin and will look to leave the Gunners this summer.
David Ospina - Despite agreeing a deal with Wenger to play in the cup and Champions League games, an unhappy Ospina will also look to leave Arsenal when the transfer window reopens, as his agent continues talks with several European sides, including Turkish outfit Fenerbahce.