According to David Ornstein, in The Athletic’s ‘The Ornstein & Chapman’ podcast, as cited by Metro, Arsenal are ready to offload three central defenders this summer. Manager Mikel Arteta is apparently set to consider bids for Rob Holding, Shkodran Mustafi and Sokratis Papastathopoulos when the transfer window reopens, as he looks to undergo a significant overhaul in the defensive unit.
Sokratis’ inclusion on this list is arguably the most shocking one. However, given his performances in recent years, a departure away from Emirates was always coming.
The Greek centre-back, despite all his experience at the highest level of football, has simply failed to provide any sort of solidity or leadership in the Arsenal backline. Aside from his poor marking, the ex-Borussia Dortmund star has also emerged as a weak spot in the north London side’s defence, mainly due to his lack of passing range.
The defender’s contract expires at the end of next season, meaning the club could run the risk of losing him for free, should they fail to offload him in the summer. Therefore, they must find a way to get rid of him when the season ends.
Sokratis’ transfer away from Arsenal will be a positive step towards rebuilding the entire backline, from both a financial and a sporting perspective.
Offloading Mustafi this summer could turn out to be a risky move by Arteta for several reasons. Although the German was considered to be the most fringe defender in the Arsenal squad, prior to the start of the 2019/20 campaign, he has come a long way since.
In fact, Mustafi has been Arsenal’s best defender since the turn of the year. His promising partnership with David Luiz helped the Gunners create a positive streak. Also, it is also fair to point out that Mustafi will remain the only experienced defender aside from Luiz if Arteta does get rid of Sokratis this summer.
At the same time, however, Mustafi’s departure should enable the north London giants to generate funds necessary to make a move for a more well-established individual, who can serve as a replacement.
The decision to get rid of Holding is a matured one from Arteta. The ex-Bolton starlet has shown a lot of promise over the years. But, he has never been able to establish himself as a household defensive name in the Premier League.
Holding has primarily struggled with recurring injuries that have majorly halted his progress. He has also appeared unlucky with the amount of competition in the Arsenal backline – making life even more difficult.
Therefore, a move away from Emirates this summer should allow the 24-year-old to revive his career potentially. He could be a bargain signing for any mid to low tier Premier League outfit. As for Arsenal, Holding’s departure will create the space necessary to bring in reinforcements in the defensive department this summer.