In the end, Arsenal ’s long-running quest for a central midfielder was worth the wait.
The Gunners cut it fine, but in the end the fans’ patience was rewarded as Thomas Partey joined from Atletico Madrid.
The Ghana international is expected to become a mainstay in Mikel Arteta’s line-up, offering a mix of defensive discipline, physicality and progressive passing.
However, Partey’s addition also creates a headache for Arteta. With Partey, Arsenal now have 19 non-homegrown players in their squad, meaning the Spaniard will have to axe two to meet the Premier League’s limit of 17.
Here are four players who could face exclusion from Arteta’s squad.
By far the most high-profile player facing an uncertain future at the Emirates Stadium, Ozil risks being cut by Arteta, who has frozen him out of first-team matters in recent months.
Ozil, Arsenal’s highest earner on an eye-watering £350,000-a-week, has not played competitive football since March, with Arteta admitting to finding difficulty to fit the 31-year-old into his plans.
Ozil has 44 goals in 254 appearances for the club but only scored once in 18 league outings last season.
Mohamed Elneny, Dani Ceballos, Granit Xhaka and Joe Willock have been vying for the midfield spots during the early part of the season, but with Partey added to the mix, it is difficult to see how Ozil fits into Arteta’s line-up.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is virtually irreplaceable on the left wing, while Alexandre Lacazette, Eddie Nketiah, Willian and Nicolas Pepe are all ahead of the former Real Madrid man in the pecking order.
Arsenal’s failure to find suitors for some of the players surplus to requirements leaves Arteta with a bloated defensive pack.
He now has eight centre-backs after Mustafi failed to secure a move away. The German was linked with a move to Lazio but is now in limbo after a switch to Serie A failed to materialise.
The 28-year-old has not played since injuring his thigh during Arsenal’s FA Cup semi-final win over Manchester City in July.
Having been free to find new employers, it seems conceivable that the 2014 World Cup winner will be left out of Arteta’s squad.
Mustafi did enjoy a run in Arteta’s starting XI following lockdown, but his prospects have been hindered following the arrival of Gabriel Magalhaes.
Arteta also has Pablo Mari to welcome back from injury with David Luiz, Rob Holding, Calum Chambers and William Saliba all vying for a spot at the heart of defence.
Thomas Partey has farewell post hijacked by furious fans after Arsenal transfer
Another centre-back Arsenal failed to move on despite links with Paris Saint-Germain and Roma during the latter stages of the window, Sokratis is another player who clearly does not figure prominently in Arteta’s vision.
That much was clear during the post-lockdown period, when the Greek centre-back appeared as a late substitute in two games, his last start coming against West Ham United in March (which was also Ozil’s last appearance).
Like Mustafi, Sokratis will be out of contract in 2021 so it seems certain that he has entered the final year of his time with the Gunners, although it is unclear how much football he will actually play before leaving.
The 32-year-old has made 69 appearances since joining from Borussia Dortmund in 2018.
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Kolasinac looked destined to leave Arsenal on deadline day only for his proposed move to Bayer Leverkusen to fall through.
The Bundesliga side were keen to sign the Bosnian but the deal was dependent on Wendell signing for Hertha Berlin, with the Brazilian ultimately staying at Bayer.
Kolasinac joined Arsenal on a free in 2017 but faces an uncertain future after failing to nail down a spot under Arteta.
Kieran Tierney has established himself as the Spaniard’s first-choice for the left-hand side of his three-man defence, with Bukayo Saka and Ainsley Maitland-Niles preferred at left wing-back.
Given Arteta’s wealth of defensive options, the chances of Kolasinac getting opportunities outside of cup competitions appear slim.
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