Mikel Arteta has made trimming Arsenal’s squad his priority for the January transfer window, admitting the club “cannot sustain” the number of players currently on their books.
The Gunners brought in five new first-team players during the close season but only made one sale, with back-up goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez heading to Aston Villa.
A number of big names, such as Mesut Ozil, Shkodran Mustafi, Sead Kolasinac and Sokratis Papastathopoulos, have subsequently struggled for minutes this term or been frozen out.
And while Arsenal continue to be linked with the likes of Isco and Joan Jordan, Arteta is keen to offload before bringing in any more new faces.
“We have a large squad. We knew that and a lot of things we wanted to do in the summer we couldn’t accomplish for different reasons,” Arteta said.
“There are some players that are going to go on loan, they are going to leave, and that’s the priority at the moment. We cannot sustain the numbers that we have in terms of substitutions.
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“We are looking to do that and then we will see if we have the right opportunities in the positions that we need some more help. We are working with the club to find that.”
Kolasinac has been linked with a return to Schalke, with reports suggesting personal terms have already been agreed over an initial loan deal next month.
“I cannot confirm anything yet,” Arteta said at a pre-match news conference ahead of Saturday’s Premier League trip to West Brom.
“We are working on a couple of things and obviously the window is going to bring a lot of news. Some are true, some are not.
“Whenever we have something to say, we will announce it. We’ve had some conversations around a few players and whether we can find some loans.
“The numbers we have in the squad at the moment are really big.”
Arteta has not been afraid to use younger players in his first full campaign in charge of Arsenal, something versatile teenager Bukayo Saka has made the most of.
Saka set up Alexandre Lacazette in Tuesday’s 1-0 win over Brighton and Hove Albion and ended the match with the most key passes (three) of any Arsenal player.
The 19-year-old academy product is a fitness doubt for the West Brom match but Arteta is hopeful he will push on in the second half of the campaign.
“That should be a given by any player, that they are always trying to learn and get better,” Arteta said.
“For me, the biggest thing he has done in the last few months is the personality he plays with and the responsibility he takes in the decision he is willing to take when things are not going well, and the impact he has had for the team to get results.
“At that age, it is not common at all. But that is his nature, and he wants to evolve that – you could see that his team-mates trust him and want to give him that responsibility.
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“That’s great because then you don’t have one or two players, you have more players.
“He is a great example as well, for any young player to play with that commitment, that passion, and that courage, when you play for a big team.”
With the likes of Emile Smith Rowe, Joe Willock, Eddie Nketiah and Ainsley Maitland-Niles also catching the eye at times, Arteta is wary of stifling their development at the expense of bringing in players on loan next month.
However, the Spaniard – who has eased some of the growing pressure on his shoulders thanks to back-to-back victories – is not completely against the idea of making new signings.
“We need to be careful with that,” Arteta said. “We will decide whether it’s a loan or buying players in relation to the opportunity that we have in the market.
“We know that our club has a history of bringing players through the academy and it’s in our DNA. We want to keep doing it and I think I’ve done it since the day I came through that door.
“But they need the right process, they need the right players around them and you have to respect the timing of their development. There is nothing worse than rushing those players when they are not ready.”