Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta could be forced to sell star player Bukayo Saka this summer in order to fund his overhaul of the first-team squad, according to reports.
The north London club currently sit in ninth place in the Premier League table, nine points adrift of the Champions League places, and are in a massive fight just to qualify for Europe.
Were they to win this season’s Europa League, Arsenal would secure a place in the Champions League next season – but anything less than that will have big consequences on the club’s transfer plans.
According to The Times, finishing outside the top six – and potentially dropping into the new third tier Europa Conference League – would starve Arteta of the funds he needs to transform his squad.
The Spaniard is keen to turn Martin Odegaard’s loan spell into a permanent move, which would cost at least £35million, while a new right-back, centre-back and central midfielder are among the areas of the squad Arteta would like to improve.
But, in order to ‘generate a competitive transfer budget’, Arsenal will have to sell some players – and no-one is safe.
According to the report, Arteta would even countenance the sale of one of the club’s best performers this season, teenager Saka, in order to bankroll his ‘unprecedented’ transfer plans.
The 19-year-old has enjoyed a strong campaign, scoring five times in the Premier League, and Arsenal would be loathe to lose an academy player with so much potential.
But he also represents the club’s most sellable asset and would generate more money than any other player in the squad.
Selling Saka would only be a last resort, however, with Arsenal hoping to raise a sizeable amount of money from selling off fringe players first.
Matteo Guendouzi, Sead Kolasinac, Lucas Torreira, Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Konstantinos Mavropanos are all on the chopping block, though Arsenal may struggle to get big fees for the quintet particularly with so many clubs struggling financially due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Hector Bellerin, Calum Chambers, Eddie Nketiah and Rob Holding could also be offloaded, while Arsenal will ‘consider cutting their loses’ on Nicolas Pepe.
The north London club have already had two incredibly busy transfer windows during Arteta’s reign and this coming summer is not expected to be any different, with the Arsenal boss aware that big changes are needed to take his squad to the next level.