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30th May 2017

Five players Arsenal need to sell this summer

Wenger is staying, but some of these players should probably go

Robert Redmond

Arsenal can now start planning for next season.

The Gunners won the FA Cup final against Chelsea at Wembley on Saturday, ending a difficult season on a positive note, and they now know who their manager will be next season.

They may have finished outside of the Champions League places, but that 2-1 victory over the heavily fancied Premier League champions will give Arsenal fans optimism for next season.

And critics of Arsene Wenger among the Arsenal support might have to take a step back for a while. The Gunners’ manager has agreed a new two-year deal, and, barring something extraordinary, will be at the club until 2019, at least.

The focus will now turn to keeping Mesut Ozil and especially Alexis Sanchez at the Emirates. However, Arsenal need to look beyond just consolidating and keeping their two best players.

After missing out on the top four for the first time in Wenger’s 21 years at the club, a shake-up might help the squad refocus.

Here are five players we reckon Arsenal would be better off without next season:

Jack Wilshere

He was the great hope for Arsenal and England, making his club debut when he was 17 and excelling against Xavi and Andreas Iniesta when he was 19. It looked like Wilshere would be an Arsenal great, a future captain and their most important player for the next decade.

But it just hasn’t happened for Wilshere, mostly because of injuries. He’s now 25 and spent the last few months of the season as a squad player for Bournemouth. Wilshere turned down AC Milan to go on loan at the Cherries, possibly in an attempt to prove he can be a consistent Premier League player, but returns to Arsenal with his stock lower than when he left.

The constant injuries appear to have taken something from Wilshere’s game. He was a strong dribbler, capable of breaking through the lines, driving from midfield and linking play.

That was noticeably absent from his play with Bournemouth, but going two years without completing 90 minutes will do that to a footballer.

It’s probably time for both parties to move on, particularly as Wilshere has just a year left on his deal.

Kieran Gibbs

Another player Arsenal produced, and whom Wenger has been loyal to, but the time has probably come to move on.

Gibbs will be 28 in September and he played just 22 games across all competitions last season. He has made just 11 league starts over the last two seasons, and has settled into a back-up role to the very consistent Nacho Monreal.

However, Sead Kolasinac will join Arsenal on a free-transfer in the summer from Schalke. The Bosnian full-back impressed in the Bundesliga last season, making five assists and scoring three goals in 25 appearances.


Kolasinac had attracted interest from several Premier League clubs, and could provide genuine competition to Monreal for the left-back slot, or at wing-back. Competition for places is exactly what the Arsenal squad needs at this point.

Gibbs is talented, but, like Wilshere, the time has probably come to move on.

Francis Coquelin

During Arsenal’s meltdown in February and March, Coquelin was pretty awful and arguably showed he’s a few levels below what is required for a team serious about challenging for the title and making a mark in Europe.

He invited Arjen Robben to cut inside on his left foot against Bayern Munich in the Champions League…

And made a horrendous attempt to stop Eden Hazard at Stamford Bridge as the Belgian raced away to score…

In that Bayern game, Coquelin made six success passes, and no successful tackles. Almost every Arsenal player was terrible over the two legs, both of which finished 5-1 to Bayern, but the French midfielder was particularly poor.

He excelled for a while alongside Santi Carzola in Arsenal’s midfield, but he’s arguably a few levels below what is required for a top level midfielder. Arsenal need to improve, and that won’t happen with Coquelin in the engine room.

Lucas Perez

Perez hasn’t had many chances for Arsenal, making just two league starts, and he showed some flashes of quality in the Champions League and the FA Cup, but he’s not of the level required for a top six Premier League team.

With Danny Welbeck back fit, there’s also not much point keeping Perez in reserve. The Spanish striker is 28 and there’s surely a club out there where he could get regular playing time.

Theo Walcott

We know what you’re going to say, Arsenal fans – ‘Walcott was decent last year, he scored 10 Premier League goals and is a very useful option to have’.

And that’s fair enough, Walcott did have a productive season, and he is a useful player to have. But he’s not top level, and never will be. It could be argued the winger symbolises Arsenal’s stagnation over the last decade.

He’s a frustrating player, who Wenger has placed misguided faith in for a long time. There was a time when Walcott was touted as the new Thierry Henry, he inherited his number 14 jersey and was said to have beat the Arsenal legend in a 100 metre dash. Now, Jesse Lingard gets into the England squad ahead of him.

It has become a cliché to say Walcott lacks a so-called ‘football brain’ required to be a top level player, but there’s some truth in that assertion. He gets caught offside a lot, still plays with his head down, misplaces passes and his best asset, his pace, can be negated by dropping off a few yards. With Arsenal switching to three at the back, and using wing-backs, there’s no obvious position for him either.

Walcott spoke about how he wanted to be used centrally, as a striker. Until he was, it didn’t work out and he was back on the wing, never to complain about wanting to be a striker again. There’s also the sense that the 28-year-old is part of the culture of comfort at Arsenal. When Graeme Souness and Jamie Carragher speak about Arsenal as a ‘team of son-in-laws’ they’re undoubtedly thinking of Walcott.

Be honest, Arsenal fans, would Walcott have survived for this long if Sir Alex Ferguson was manager? Or if Antonio Conte was Arsenal manager? Almost certainly not, and Arsenal need to do something different next season.

Since failing to qualify for the Champions League in 2010, Liverpool have had one season back in Europe’s top club competition. The same could happen to Arsenal if they don’t arrest their slide.

The club needs a jolt, a change of mindset and an upgrade on many of their current players, particularly now that they won’t be changing their manager.

Wenger could show much needed ruthlessness and pragmatism by finally getting rid of Walcott and others.