Arsenal’s Mikel Arteta shifts focus to new recruits after moving players on

Mikel Arteta

LONDON – Arsenal are looking at bringing new players in during the January transfer window after trimming the squad in recent weeks because the situation was unmanageable with players left out of rosters, manager Mikel Arteta said on Thursday.

Arsenal agreed to terminate Greek defender Sokratis Papastathopoulos’ contract on Wednesday, while midfielder Mesut Ozil is finalising a move to Turkish club Fenerbahce.

Both players were left out of the club’s Premier League and Europa League squads this season.

Sead Kolasinac and William Saliba were also sent out on loan and Arteta said one of the club’s main objectives was to move fringe players out to maintain the “health, ambition and chemistry” of the squad.

“We could not carry on with 31 players in the squad, this is unmanageable. When you have to leave some of the foreign players out it makes it even more difficult,” Arteta told reporters ahead of Saturday’s FA Cup fourth round tie at Southampton.

“We’ve done the first part (moving players out) more or less and now we are focusing on the second phase. Obviously this market and the context makes it really difficult but we are looking at options.

“We are looking at various positions because the movements that we’ve made in this transfer window with some players leaving the club leaves us a little bit short in certain areas.”

Arteta said Ozil’s deal was taking longer than usual because of the Covid-19 restrictions in Turkey.

He declined to comment on media speculation that Arsenal are looking to sign Real Madrid’s Norwegian attacking midfielder Martin Odegaard on loan but said they were short of left backs as cover for Kieran Tierney following Kolasinac’s departure.

“We know we can use Ainsley (Maitland-Niles) there, we can use Bukayo (Saka) there and we can use Cedric (Soares), who has played in that position,” Arteta said.

“A natural option to Kieran? Obviously, we don’t. But we can adapt… The option is open and we will look to see what is available.”