Arsenal’s return to the top table of English football has completely flipped the narrative when it comes to the makeup of the Gunners’ squad.
Now with dreams of winning the Premier League and battling for European glory, gone are the days of searching for bargains and extending the contracts of popular players. Tough decisions need to be made, and Arsenal have a few to make this summer.
Here’s a closer look at the players on expiring deals at the Emirates.
Jorginho’s deal expires in the summer but Arsenal do have the option to extend his stay by a further 12 months, and the Gunners would be wise to do so.
Having spent so much money last summer, and with expensive transfer targets being lined up for this year, Arsenal may not have a whole lot of financial flexibility when it comes to finding reliable squad help, and so keeping Jorginho feels like a sensible business decision.
It’s clear the Italy international isn’t a permanent starter these days, but if he’s happy in this sort of role, Arsenal should not hesitate to keep him around.
Arsenal signed Cedric on a free transfer in 2020 when they needed some Premier League experience and cover at right-back.
Four years later, it’s safe to say that void does not exist anymore. With Ben White, Takehiro Tomiyasu and Jurrien Timber, when the latter recovers from an ACL injury, all strutting their stuff at the Emirates, there simply isn’t room for Cedric in Arteta’s squad.
He helped Arsenal steady the ship in the early Arteta years, but the Gunners have moved on.
Like Cedric, Mohamed Elneny is another player whose job as a reliable cover option is simply not required these days.
The Egypt international, who joined in 2016, has plenty of experience and is understood to be a popular character behind the scenes, but there are three defensive midfielders ahead of him in the pecking order. It’s time for a parting of ways.
Elneny’s salary could go towards a significant upgrade to the starting lineup which, with Arsenal now competing for major silverware, is the priority right now.
21-year-old Karl Hein has been Arsenal’s third-choice goalkeeper this season, often appearing on the bench in the Champions League and Carabao Cup.
The Estonia international, who has one appearance for Arsenal to his name, is in a tough situation. He’s played just six senior club matches in four years, yet Hein has 27 caps as his country’s starting goalkeeper and clearly needs to move on for the sake of his career.
Arsenal may want to keep him as a low-cost third option in goal, and it would make sense if the terms were right, but it seems like just a matter of time before Hein heads out for pastures new.
Arsenal made the unusual decision to loan goalkeeper Arthur Okonkwo to Wrexham this season despite the fact his contract expires at the end of the campaign. It’s usually a sign that he’s going to be released on a free transfer.
Perhaps that was the plan last summer, but maybe it shouldn’t be now. Okonkwo, who only turned 22 in September, has had a thoroughly impressive spell with Wrexham, who are battling near the top of League Two. That’s obviously a big drop from Arsenal’s level but it’s fairly common for young goalkeepers to jump up one division per season if they impress, and Okonkwo certainly has.
Is he going to start for Arsenal down the line? Possibly. Okonkwo could be a valuable squad option in a few years and so, if he is happy to extend, a new deal should be sent his way.
Arsenal recruited Alex Runarsson in the summer of 2020 as a replacement for Emiliano Martinez. The Icelandic stopper was expected to be Bernd Leno’s deputy but it soon became clear he was not of the required level, with one particular error against Manchester City attracting some pretty ugly criticism from faceless fans on social media.
Loaned out to OH Leuven in Belgium as a 26-year-old after just one year at Arsenal, Runarsson’s Gunners career was over at that point and it has since been a case of figuring out how to pass the time until the end of his contract.
He’s currently the backup goalkeeper on loan with Cardiff City but Runarsson will have one eye on his fresh start this summer.