Mikel Arteta has been very impressed by Arsenal midfielder Jorginho following his arrival at the club in January, according to Charles Watts, and the Arsenal insider has also clarified the situations of Leandro Trossard, Eddie Nketiah and Folarin Balogun.
Arsenal raised eyebrows by signing Jorginho from London rivals Chelsea for £12million in the winter transfer window. That came after Arsenal failed to raid Brighton for priority target Moises Caicedo.
Jorginho went on to make 16 appearances for Arsenal in the second half of last season and registered one assist, though he is yet to bag his first goal for the club. He managed to leapfrog Thomas Partey and emerge into a regular starter in the final few weeks of the campaign.
The Italy international has been linked with a move back to Serie A, as Lazio are supposedly interested in him. But on June 28, Jorginho told the Evening Standard he is ‘very happy to stay at Arsenal’, essentially shutting the exit rumours down.
Watts has now revealed Arteta also has no intention of losing Jorginho, as the 31-year-old will play an important role in the dressing room next term.
“They’re very happy with how it’s worked out,” Watts told TEAMtalk. “I thought he was very good last season when he came in and he’d replaced Partey in the side by the end of it. Long term, if Partey stays, which is an ‘if’ at the moment, I would say Partey probably goes back ahead of him in the pecking order, but I think Jorginho has still got a very, very big part to play.
“He’s really popular behind the scenes, he’s a massive figure, as well, he’s really established himself quickly as a leader off the pitch at Arsenal. Mikel Arteta really likes him and the players really like him and I think he’s got a big part to play.
“It’s going to be such a big-squad game for Arsenal this season, especially with Champions League football coming back. Jorginho’s got all the experience you’d want to be able to cope with and deal with that. He’s happy at Arsenal, I know that, and I’d be very very surprised if Jorginho was one of the players who leaves between now and the end of the end of the transfer window.”
Leandro Trossard going nowhere, just like Jorginho
Watts also discussed the future of Belgian forward Trossard. While the former Brighton ace might not start every game for Arsenal, he is ‘absolutely’ not a player Arteta will be considering letting go.
“He’s very much in the reckoning, he’s really pushing for a starting place and Trossard was absolutely superb last season when he came in,” Watts added. “It’s an argument when Jesus got back fit and Trossard lost his place in the side that, because of that, Arsenal were worse off for it.
“Trossard had been so influential, I think he got something like 10 assists in the league between joining and the end of the season. He only scored one which was remarkable because it felt like he could have had six or seven. He was really unlucky, he hit the post four times, had a goal ruled out at Leicester that was really unfortunate.
“He played on Thursday in a friendly as a central striker, he’s played wide on the left, on the right and he can play as an eight as well – technically excellent, there’s no chance he goes. He’s going to be a really big player for Arsenal this season.
“I’m really excited to see what Trossard can bring to the team. He might not be a guaranteed starter. Certainly Martinelli and Saka are ahead of him out wide and Jesus will probably start as a central striker but Trossard will play an awful lot of games. Again, with Champions League football coming, the need to rotate is going to be a lot stronger. Trossard would absolutely not be one for consideration to go.”
Balogun could leave, Nketiah to stay
Fellow attacker Nketiah has been tipped to find a new club this summer, with West Ham among those taking a look at him. But Watts provided the main reason why Nketiah will stay, with one of his team-mates due to be sold instead.
“[Folarin] Balogun is far more likely to go than Eddie [Nketiah] just because of the contract situation of both,” Watts revealed. “You’ve got one on a long-term contract and one on a short-term contract.
“One is very, very hot right now in terms of being a sellable asset. And the other one, a lot of teams would like Nketiah but a lot more teams at the moment are looking at Balogun.
“It’s very similar to when Arsenal had Bernd Leno and Emi Martinez and one of them really had to go that summer to bring in some money. And Martinez was a far more sellable asset at that time because Leno had been injured. Martinez had come in and been brilliant in the FA Cup. A lot of teams were looking at him so it was far easier for Arsenal to make money by selling Martinez.
“There’s a similar situation now with Balogun who is just more sellable than Eddie. If Arsenal were to sell him and keep Balogun then you risk having a player on a short-term contract, who you might need to sell later on. So I think Eddie stays and Balogun is more likely to go.
“But again, if someone slapped down £30-£40m on the table for Eddie Nketiah, I’m sure Arsenal will probably think about it.”