Seven Arsenal stars facing January axe with Edu tipped to clean house

Steve Pearson
Edu in the stands at Premier League game between Burnley and Arsenal

Arsenal chief Edu has been tipped to complete a piece of unfinished business and preside over the exits of up to seven stars in January, per a report.

Arsenal were English football’s biggest spenders in the summer when bringing in no fewer than six first-team stars. Their outlay hit close to the £150m mark, but the club weren’t quite as successful at making deals for their own players.

Just Joe Willock left on a permanent deal from their first-team corps. And per Football London, Edu has a ‘huge job’ on his hands in January.

The article notes that without European football this season, Arsenal’s squad won’t be as stretched as their rivals. As such, a number of fringe stars that would otherwise have been given the odd outing will be left to flounder in the reserves.

With that in mind, as many as seven stars could be axed in January as Edu looks to trim the fat of his squad.

Firstly, Bernd Leno is named. The goalkeeper has fallen behind Aaron Ramsdale in the pecking order and has made no secret of his dissatisfaction at not being a starter.

The German will have 18 months remaining on his deal come January, making the winter window the prime spot to maximise their return from an exit.

Defenders Calum Chambers and Saed Kolasinac are next in line. The twin arrivals of Takehiro Tomiyasu and Ben White have hampered Chambers’ chances of ever starting at centre-back.

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Right-back depth remains an issue that could ensure Chambers is retained, though Kolasinac’s outlook appears rather more bleak.

Kieran Tierney and Nuno Tavares ensure there is no place for the Bosnian at present. Kolasinac will be free to negotiate a pre-contract agreement with overseas clubs in January. Though the article insist Edu will strive to foster a cut-price sale first.

Midfielders Mohamed Elneny and Ainsley Maitland-Niles make up numbers four and five. Elneny is in the same contractual situation as Kolasinac, while Maitland-Niles made clear his desire to seek regular minutes elsewhere before the summer window slammed shut.

Forward pair Eddie Nketiah and Folarin Balogun complete the list. In a similar story to several others named, Nketiah is out of contract next year.

Eddie Nketiah warming up for Arsenal in April 2021

That leaves the winter window as the final opening for Arsenal to generate a fee. Crystal Palace were reportedly keen last summer, though they ultimately settled on Odsonne Edouard instead.

Balogun, meanwhile, may be the only name of the seven with a long-term future at the Emirates.

The 20-year-old has shone in the Under-23s this year, though regular action in the first-team still appears some way away. As such, a loan exit may be sanctioned to further his development at a higher level.

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Everton, West Ham chasing Arsenal contract rebel

Meanwhile, Everton and West Ham are reportedly among a number of Premier League clubs hunting a move for an Arsenal frontman Alexandre Lacazette.

Lacazette is attracting plenty of interest from across Europe, given his current contract status. The Frenchman can either leave for a cut-price fee in January or wait until the end of the current campaign and walk away for nothing.

And according to French outlet Jeunes Footeux, the 30-year-old is of major interest to the Toffees and the Hammers.

At his stage, Arsenal are reportedly considering all their options over the forward’s future.

Lacazette has been one the club’s most consistent performers since moving to The Emirates in 2017. However, current boss Mikel Arteta is reluctant to play the forward alongside skipper Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in attack.

There have been some calls for Lacazette to replace Aubameyang in the starting line-up. That’s despite the latter also being on target in the Palace draw. However, that looks highly unlikely while Arteta remains at the helm – meaning a Lacazette exit looks increasingly likely.

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