Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has addressed the press ahead of his side’s Premier League clash with Crystal Palace on Wednesday, providing an update on the futures of Willian and Bernd Leno who have both been linked with summer transfer window exits.
An atrocity of a signing last summer, the 32-year-old has been a hopeless waste of minutes and resources this term, and with age catching up on him a sudden turnaround simply won’t happen. With Arteta insisting he had to be ‘ruthless’ this summer in regards to his squad, wiping his hands clean of his biggest mistake in management would be a good start.
Speaking to the press, the Spaniard poured cold water on suggestions of a premature (in theory, not in reality) exit for Willian, insisting it is ‘very likely’ he will remain at the club heading into next season.
Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta provides updates on Willian and Bernd Leno futures ahead of summer transfer window
“Every player who is under contract is likely to be here with us next season,” Arteta insisted, as quoted by Chris Wheatley.
Which, we can hope, is not in a literal sense because it would be nice if, well, someone was actually sold this summer. It clearly doesn’t mean everyone will stay. Transfer tactics, and that.
“This season [for Willian] has been difficult and I take full responsibility. We had moments but not to the level he did before,” he added. “This is the assessment that we will do individually with the players, Edu & the board to make the right decisions for the future.”
‘Likely’ isn’t game over. Equally, as is the case with any asset – or burden in this case – outwardly stating that he’s been rubbish and you want to sell him knocks any hopes of shipping him off for free or otherwise.
As with Bernd Leno, Arteta was much less ambiguous. Speaking candidly he claimed that Leno’s place in the team is certain.
“He has two years here and he belongs here,” he insisted.
Does that mean an offer coming in wouldn’t make Arsenal consider? Certainly not. Every player bar a select few will be open to potential sales if the price is right. However, a European side testing the waters with a £20m+ bid for Leno is highly unlikely.
It seems other areas take precedent unless the Gunners’ hands are tempted, although this is the usual media spin where you put on a strong front to look undeterred by outside noises. If clubs came in for Willian, Arteta would bite their hand off. Leno? Probably him, too.