Arteta admits January departures are Arsenal’s ‘priority’

Mikel Arteta has outlined his intention to trim Arsenal’s bloated squad and says departures are the club’s ‘priority’ ahead of the January transfer window.

Arsenal have a number of players who have been deemed surplus to requirements with Mesut Ozil the most high-profile casualty of Arteta’s reign so far, the club’s highest-ever paid player having been omitted from the Gunners’s squads for both the Premier League and Europa League.

Sokratis is another player who has been exiled under the Spaniard, whilst the out-of-favour Shkodran Mustafi and Sead Kolasinac have also been linked with an exit, the latter reportedly close to rejoining Schalke on a loan deal until the end of the season.

Arteta admits reducing the numbers in his squad is a ‘priority’ for the north London side this winter, suggesting outgoings are essential to his hopes of bringing in January reinforcements.

“Well, we have a large squad, we knew that and a lot of things we wanted to do in the summer, we couldn’t accomplish for different reasons,” Arteta said at his pre-match press conference.

“There are some players that are going to go on loan, they are going to leave, and that’s the priority at the moment. We cannot sustain the numbers that we have in terms of substitutions.

“We are looking to do that and then we will see if we have the right opportunities in the positions that we need some more help. We are working with the club to find that.”

Arteta also discussed the possibility of new arrivals during the January window and says he is keen not to stifle the development of several promising players currently emerging at the Emirates.

Academy graduates Bukayo Saka and Emile Smith Rowe have impressed during recent victories over Chelsea and Brighton, whilst Gabriel Martinelli has recently returned to the fold following a long-term injury lay-off.

“We need to be careful with that (stifling the development of a youngster), but obviously financially, it’s not only us, it’s every club in the Premier League who has been hit with big numbers. We know that this is not going to change from the last year or so and we are going to have to add some of how we want to improve the team in different ways financially.

“We will decide whether it’s a loan or buying players in relation to the opportunity that we have in the market.”

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