Arsenal will offload players before European window shuts

The German defender wheels away in celebration after he gives the Gunners a crucial early lead at the Emirates on Sunday

LONDON (Reuters) – Arsenal will allow more players to leave the club before the transfer window shuts for the rest of Europe’s major leagues on Sept. 2, manager Unai Emery said on Friday.

Arsenal made six major signings in the close season, which included defenders David Luiz and Kieran Tierney on deadline day and record signing Nicolas Pepe who reportedly cost the London club 72 million pounds ($87 million).

But a number of regulars including captain Laurent Koscielny, Aaron Ramsey and Alex Iwobi left and Emery is prepared to lose more in the coming weeks, saying he will only pick a new captain after the squad is finalised.

“We are changing players at the last moment. We had Koscielny, the old captain, and he left with five days to go,” Emery told reporters ahead of Sunday’s match at Newcastle.

“At the moment the market is open in other countries. In the next 20-25 days some players will leave.

“For this reason I want the squad to be finalised clearly. At the moment we have (Mesut) Ozil, (Nacho) Monreal and (Granit) Xhaka (as probable captains).”

Emery said striker Alexandre Lacazette, who was voted the club’s best player last season, is a doubt for the season opener as he continues to recover from an ankle injury while he is yet to take a call on whether Pepe will make his club debut.

“We will start with the players that I am convinced are 100%,” Emery added. “For some players it is impossible to achieve that performance because they arrived late or are now training after being injured.

“Lacazette trained yesterday and today but I don’t know now if he can play on Sunday, we will check tomorrow. Pepe has been training and working with us a for a week.”

Arsenal finished fifth last season and narrowly missed out on Champions League qualification for the third successive year and Emery said his main priority was a top-four finish.

“Our first target is to be in the top four, we reduced the distance last season,” Emery said. “Manchester City and Liverpool are stronger than the others at the beginning.

“We want to compete with them and reduce the points gap. Tottenham, Manchester United and Chelsea have the same objectives. Last year the difference was really small and the challenge now is for us to achieve a top-four finish.”