Arsenal have released nine players this summer, with Santi Cazorla the most notable departure. The Gunners recently submitted their released list to the Premier League, which reveals Per Mertesacker, Marc Bola, Alex Crean, Aaron Eyoma. Ryan Huddart, Chiori Johnson, Hugo Keto and Tafari Moore have also seen their contracts ended.
Mertesacker’s name on the list is no surprise. The 33-year-old is retiring to become Arsenal’s new Head of Academy. He joined the Gunners from Werder Bremen in 2011 and went on to make 221 appearances in all competitions, winning three FA Cups.
His departure, coupled with Laurent Koscielny’s serious achilles injury, leaves Arsenal short of experience at the back ahead of next season. It’s why Head of Recruitment Sven Mislintat is desperately trying to overhaul the defence – Borussia Dortmund’s Sokratis Papastathopoulos is close to signing.
New manager Unai Emery could be left with Shkodran Mustafi, Rob Holding, Calum Chambers and Konstantinos Mavropanos as his centre-back options next season which isn’t good enough for a side chasing a top-four finish.
Cazorla is the other first-team player who has been released. The 33-year-old has been sidelined with an achilles injury since October 2016 and nearly lost his leg after a suffering gangrene. He joined Arsenal from Malaga in 2012 and racked up 180 appearances.
The Spanish international re-joined former club Villarreal this summer and will look to prove his fitness to earn himself a permanent deal at the Estadio de la Cerámica. His departure has highlighted a need for a new central midfielder, as Jack Wilshere and Aaron Ramsey have uncertain futures and could need replacing.
If Wilshere fails to agree a contract extension this summer, he’ll exit as a free transfer. If Ramsey fails to agree an extension, Arsenal will look to cash in. The Gunners have been linked with Sampdoria’s Lucas Torreira and Sevilla’s Steven N’Zonzi, but time will tell if they do strengthen in this summer.
Arsenal finished sixth in the Premier League last season, which was their worst campaign under former manager Arsene Wenger. The bar has been set low for Emery, but with so many players needing to be signed and sold this summer, can he turn things around in time?