Mikel Arteta has expressed his relief at trimming an “unmanageable” Arsenal squad but added he is hopeful of negotiating a tough market to make additions before the January transfer window closes.
Arsenal have terminated the contracts of Mesut Ozil and Sokratis Papastathopoulos and are allowing Sead Kolasinac to see out the remaining six months of his deal on loan at Schalke. William Saliba has also been sent to Nice.
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“We could not carry on with 31 players in the squad,” Arteta told a news conference on Thursday. “It is unmanageable. As well when you have to leave some of the foreign players out, it makes it even more difficult.
“To do it for a few weeks is okay, to do it for months and maintain the health, the ambition and the chemistry is really complicated. So, one of the main objectives was to make some decision of how we are going to offset that. We have done it. Just for me, the important thing is everybody feels involved, part, and that they have a chance.”
Kolasinac’s departure leaves Arsenal with only Kieran Tierney as a naturally left-footed left-back and Arteta admitted the club would look to strengthen that position, adding to their search for a back-up goalkeeper and a creative midfielder.
“With the departures of Kola we are a little bit short with left-footed full-backs at the moment,” Arteta said.
“We can use Ainsley [Maitland-Niles], we can use Bukayo [Saka], we can use Cedric [Soares], who has played in that position.
“So we have some unnatural options. To Kieran, obviously we don’t, but we can adapt. That option [to sign someone] is open and we will be looking to see what is available.
“We are in that process right now. We’ve done the first part [selling players] more or less and now we are focusing on the second phase. Obviously this market and the context makes it really difficult but we are looking at options and we will see what we can do.”
Arteta, who refused to comment on speculation Arsenal are interested in Real Madrid midfielder Martin Odegaard, admitted the window is difficult as a result of the ongoing uncertainty created by COVID-19.
“We are all very cautious and conscious about what we want to do and how we want to do it, how the market is going to evolve so we need to be careful,” he said.
“We want to process every decision really carefully and then when we are clear about an opportunity, then we will try to do it.”
Two months ago, Arteta claimed he would try to find the identity of a dressing room mole after details emerged of a training ground bust-up between David Luiz and Dani Ceballos.
Asked if he had been successful, Arteta replied: “I have a sort of idea, yes.”
Pushed on if that was related to the players that left this month, Arteta added: “No comment on that.”