Arsenal’s mini purge of unwanted players has left them free to make additions this month according to Mikel Arteta, who says they are active in the market.
Arteta would not comment on suggestions Arsenal are competing with Real Sociedad for the loan signing of Martin Ødegaard, the Real Madrid playmaker, but confirmed he plans to bring players in before the transfer window closes on 1 February.
“We are in that process right now,” Arteta said. “We’ve done the first part [shedding players] more or less and now we are focusing on the second phase. Obviously this market and the context make it really difficult but we are looking at options and we will see what we can do.”
Arsenal are known to be seeking attacking midfield reinforcements, which would add to Ødegaard’s appeal, although they are light in other positions and Arteta admitted the “option is open” to sign competition at left-back for Kieran Tierney now that Sead Kolasinac has joined Schalke on loan.
“We are looking at various positions because the movements we’ve made in this transfer window, with some players leaving the club, leave us a little bit short in certain areas,” he said.
Mesut Özil and Sokratis Papastathopoulos have agreed contract settlements in the past week, with Özil’s move to Fenerbahce expected to be rubber-stamped after a period of quarantine in Turkey. Arteta said the final step in completing that deal was proving “the longest ever” but no problems are anticipated.
“He is a great footballer, a really talented footballer, a player who has done a lot for the football club, but at the moment I want to take the team in a different direction,” Arteta said of Özil’s much-discussed exile from his squad. “If we were to have more options, then maybe he was part of some plans. He was part of some plans at the start, and he wasn’t at the end.”
Arteta, whose side visit Southampton in the FA Cup fourth round on Saturday, was asked whether the investigation he promised two months ago into training-ground leaks had borne fruit. Back then he promised there would be “consequences” after details of an alleged fracas between Dani Ceballos and David Luiz seeped out. After a lengthy pause he replied: “I have a sort of idea, yes,” and said he would not comment on whether it was related to any players who have departed this month.