For a club the size of Arsenal, their final standings in the Premier League each year don’t do them any justice. Widely mocked for consistently ending up in 4th place under Arsene Wenger in almost every campaign, Unai Emery was brought in at the start of this season to try and change that. But, instead, he’s led them to a 5th place finish behind their arch-rivals Tottenham Hotspur.
However, the blame can’t solely be pinned on Emery, like it was with Wenger. This is because there are a lot of deficiencies out on the pitch that doesn’t allow for Emery to actually see his plans through. The current players are simply unable to do much of what he asks. The fix for this? To invest heavily and get rid of the deadwood in the squad.
In this list, you’ll see five players that I personally consider to be beneath Arsenal’s standard or players that simply don’t care about the club — mercenaries, to put it bluntly; there to pick up a pay cheque at the end of the month and give little regard to what happens to the club in the meantime.
#4 Mohamed Elneny1
I think everybody was surprised when Arsenal announced that they had signed Mohamed Elneny back in January 2016. His fee was undisclosed but some said that he cost the Gunners around £5m or more. He has still yet to show why he was bought in the first place. His performances have been sub-par, aside from the occasional flash of brilliance here and there.
There are much better options out there, especially for a club with the size of Arsenal, so why are they holding on to a player who’d struggled to even break into the first team when Arsenal face a mid-table Premier League side?
Elneny has spent the majority of this season either on the bench or excluded from the squad entirely. With the inevitably high wages he’s being paid per week, surely it would make sense to ship him out elsewhere and find a more adept replacement before any more time is wasted.
#3 Shkodran Mustafi
Former World Cup winner Shkodran Mustafi is a far cry from the player he once was. His time with Arsenal has been one long haul, and his ability has been on the decline for quite some time.
Although he’s featured in 31 matches for the Gunners this season, many will argue that that’s purely because there are virtually no other options to challenge him for the position. He has been poor for the majority of the season and is one of the main reasons behind Arsenal’s dismal defensive record in this campaign.
Given the fact he’s only 27 years old, which means that he’s entered the peak years of a defender, he still has a high market value. Arsenal should capitalize on this moment in time and ship him out before the summer transfer window ends, to ensure that they get the most out of him before it’s too late.
AC Milan are reportedly eyeing up an offer for the German, but only time will tell if that’ll materialize.
#2 Laurent Koscielny
Laurent Koscielny has gradually slipped into the shadows at the Emirates in recent seasons, going from being their star defender to making the occasional mediocre appearance at the back. From game to game, his involvement in matches is practically nil, and he doesn’t seem able to stop the oncoming attackers as easily as he once could.
Safe to say that the 33-year-old is beyond his peak at this stage, and it would be wise for Arsenal to move him on while they can still get something for him. His market value is around £7m, and given his age, this is likely to fall rapidly, so the time to act should be now.
It is imperative that Arsenal start investing in younger, more agile defenders to bolster their backline, and stop clinging onto has-beens who contribute hardly anything to the first team. It’s this negative attitude that has always held them back when challenging for the title.
#1 Mesut Ozil
This is an inclusion that will probably come as a surprise to most of you out there, but for those of you in the know, Mesut Ozil is on a decline and has been for some time now.
It’s long been believed that the 30-year-old is merely at Arsenal for the exorbitant wages he gets paid each week and doesn’t give a great deal of thought to the club itself. His performances have been sluggish and ponderous for years now, and it was one of the main reasons behind the crowd trouble that began towards the end of the Wenger era.
Ozil simply looked as if he didn’t care; he walked around the pitch, passed the occasional sideways ball, and would walk down the tunnel at the end of the game with his shoulders hunched, staring at the floor, probably knowing that he hadn’t given his best. This was picked up on by the fans who made sure to let their feelings be known as he walked past them down into the dressing room.
He has improved somewhat in recent times, but it’s still not enough. Arsenal have the financial clout to invest heavily in a No 10 far more adept at the role than Mesut Ozil, and someone who’ll bring a refreshing determination on the attacking front, so why haven’t they done so?