In Mikel Arteta's first ever press conference as Arsenal boss all the way back in December 2019, the Spaniard clarified his aspirations for the north London club.
If you don't have the right culture, in the difficult moments, the tree is going to shake, so my job is to convince everybody that this is how we are going to live, and if you are going to be part of this organisation it has to be in these terms and in this way.Arteta after taking the Arsenal job
It's clear to see that in little over a year, the tree has been very well shaken.
In the year since, Arteta has stood by his words: it's my way or the highway. The first case of this came in the summer, with Matteo Guendouzi being exiled from the squad after his attempt to throttle Neal Maupay in a dire 2-1 lose to Brighton during Project Restart. For the 2020/21 season, he has been banished on loan to Hertha Berlin, who are now showing signs of pursuing a permanent deal for the 21-year-old midfielder.
With his contract set to expire in summer 2022, Arsenal have to take any offers for the Frenchman seriously. With cut-throat Arteta clearly not looking to reintegrate Guendouzi into his plans, the midfielder is one of many players the club has to let go if they want to really follow their manager's path.
Hertha Berlin's next opponent is Schalke, a match that could feature two Arsenal loanees on the pitch with the New Year's Eve announcement that Sead Kolasinac would be rejoining his former team on loan for the rest of the season.
The Bosnian's appearances this season have been limited to cup competitions, with him only starting one Premier League game. Slipping behind fan favourite Kieran Tierney in the pecking order, it was announced by Edu on the club's official website, who said: "Sead needs to be playing regularly, so we have decided together that a move back to Germany with Schalke will benefit him at this moment."
His move to Schalke won't be of any concern for Arsenal fans. In fact, he will be seen as the first of many who need to go.
Defensive duo Shkodran Mustafi and Sokratis Papastathopoulos have become deadwood, and with their contracts both set to expire at the end of the current season it is time to cash in.
Mustafi was rumoured to be on the way to Barcelona, and although that has since been laughed out of the room, he needs to be making his way to a departure lounge soon. His fellow centre-back Sokratis, excluded from both Arteta's Premier League and Europa League squads this season, has to be shown the door too.
It's never been clear what on Earth is happening with William Saliba, Arsenal's £27m (yes £27,000,000) 2019 recruit. The Unai Emery signing's former suitors Saint-Etienne are primed to take him back to Ligue 1, either on loan or even in a permanent transfer, although Premier League teams are also watching his developments. His situation has to be top of the agenda for Arteta. A player of such worth cannot be left to sit out...
Which leads us nicely on to Mesut Ozil. With the latest news that Ozil's contract will not be terminated this window, Arsenal must believe he is unlikely to leave this window, although if either of the Juventus or Fenerbahce links are to be believed, the club should charter a plane to get him out of there.
Being rid of all these players isn't just about the wage bill. They represent a sizeable list of Arsene Wenger and Emery signings that Arteta simply doesn't see fitting into his vision.
Arsenal's future under Arteta is still in jeopardy despite two successive wins. You can see what the manager is trying to achieve at the club, but things will only become more streamlined with a clear-out of the old guard.
"There are some players that are going to go on loan and going to leave, and that is the priority," Arteta told BBC Sport. Although all the talk is all about which attacking midfielder they should sign, until the Gunners follow through with Arteta's words, they will struggle to lift themselves anywhere near top four contention.
Source : 90min