Five Arsenal Players Arteta Should Hand New Contracts To
With the summer transfer window fast approaching, Chris Wheatley (the chief Arsenal reporter for football.london), has named five Arsenal players that Mikel Arteta should hand a new contract to before next season begins. Let’s assess his 5 choices.
Emile Smith-Rowe (contract expires in 2023)
Smith-Rowe’s emergence this season has been nothing short of breath-taking. Ever since his first Premier League start against Chelsea on Boxing Day, the ‘Croydon de Bruyne’ has been an ever-present in Arteta’s side.
Still only 20 years of age, Smith-Rowe has 6 assists in 23 appearances this season across all competitions, 1 behind Willian on 7 (Arsenal’s top provider so far this season). The youngster has also bagged two goals this campaign, 1 in the Europa League against Rapid Vienna, the other an extra-time strike in the FA Cup Third Round victory over Newcastle.
Smith-Rowe’s impressive performances were rewarded with his first ever call up to the England U21 squad for the UEFA U21 Euro Finals Group Stage this month. It’s expected that Smith-Rowe will be further rewarded with a new Arsenal deal in the coming months, with the Gunners looking to tie the rising star down to a long term contract and ward off any potential suitors.
Bernd Leno (contract expires in 2023)
Since joining Arsenal in 2018 from Bayer Leverkusen, Bernd Leno has been one of the Gunners most dependable performers. The German is arguably the best keeper Arsenal have had at the club since Jens Lehmann. Yes, Szczesny has become one of the world’s best, but his time in North London was often overshadowed by mistakes – hindsight is a wonderful thing.
Now in his third season at Arsenal, and at 29 years of age, many believe Leno is reaching the peak of his powers. One of the first names on the team-sheet, you’d be hard pressed to find a better goalkeeper for a reasonable price in today’s current market. A new deal for Bernd Leno in the summer must be a priority.
Reiss Nelson (contract expires in 2023)
Reiss Nelson’s opportunities this season have been few and far between; he has featured just 9 times this campaign across all competitions. The youngster will have been disappointed to have fallen so far down the pecking order, behind the likes of Willian, Pépé, Auba, Smith-Rowe and Saka.
But given Reiss is only 21 years old, letting the talented winger go so early on in his career could prove a costly mistake. Arsenal fans only have to think of Serge Gnabry to be reminded of what could’ve been.
It is believed several Bundesliga clubs are monitoring the Englishman’s situation, including Hertha Berlin. A loan deal next season could work wonders for Nelson, allowing him time to develop and prove to Arteta that he has a bright future at the Emirates.
Dinos Mavropanos (contract expires in 2023)
Mavropanos is Arsenal’s forgotten man, but could become a prominent figure in the dressing room next season. Having signed for Arsenal in January 2018 from PAS Giannina, the Greek central defender has only featured 7 times for the Gunners, but his early performances were praised by fans and pundits alike.
Currently on loan at Stuttgart, the 23 year-old has become one of the Bundesliga’s most consistent defenders. Mavropanos’ strong performances were recognised, with the defender being nominated for the Bundesliga Rookie of the Month in February. Likewise, the centre back was called up to the Greece squad for this month’s international break, and was handed his first international start in a 2-1 win over Honduras on the 28th March.
Arteta is set to welcome Mavropanos back for pre-season this summer. The 23 year-old could battle it out with Gabriel, Saliba, Holding and Luiz for a place in Arsenal’s back four.
Calum Chambers (contract expires in 2022)
Since returning from a serious knee injury, Calum Chambers has slotted in well at right back on a couple of occasions. The Englishman was named Man of the Match in the 3-3 draw with West Ham, after his involvement in Arsenal’s first two goals.
A versatile player, Chambers can play right back, centre back or even central midfield. Although not an integral part of the squad, Chambers often plays well when called upon. With the 26 year-old entering the final year of his contract next season, tying Chambers down to a new deal will be a matter for Edu to deal with this summer.
To avoid letting Chambers run the final year of his contract down and leave for free next year, a new deal is important so that the Gunners can cash in this summer, or next. Although, with Bellerín being increasingly linked with a move away from the Emirates, Chambers could rival Cédric for the right-back spot next season.
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