Unai Emery has told Shkodran Mustafi and Mohamed Elneny to find new clubs in the coming days – for the good of their own careers.
The pair have dropped down the pecking order at the Emirates Stadium and were expected to be sold this summer.
However, with the Premier League transfer deadline passed and the European window closing on September 2, both players are yet to be moved on.
Mustafi played plenty of football in Emery’s first season in charge but has always polarised the opinion of supporters and has made plenty of mistakes.
He remains Arsenal’s fifth most expensive signing but could leave in a cut-price deal in the coming days having not made the squad for the first two Premier League games of the campaign.
Elneny, who has also yet to feature having played for Egypt at the African Cup of Nations, arrived from Basle in January 2016 but has never been able to hold down a regular place in the Arsenal midfield.
After signing the likes of David Luiz and loanee Dani Ceballos this summer, Emery is now keen to move on players who will be left unsettled by a lack of first-team opportunities.
“We have now some players, they know their situation,” he said. “For example, Elneny and Mustafi know their position in the squad and really I want the players to be happy here, I want the players to be protagonists here.
“Last year with Mustafi and Mo, when they didn’t play they weren’t happy and I spoke with them a lot of times last year and this pre-season and I think it is positive for them to leave and sign for another team where they can be protagonists and be happy and continue their careers.
“They are very big players but for one circumstance or another, they are going to have less chances to show their capacity or to be happy with us and the minutes they play in matches.
“But they know the situation and really, really I am wishing the best for them and I think now the best for them is to be protagonists in another team and sign and to get another challenge for them with another team.
“We respect them, they are training with us, but they know their situation and only I am wishing the best for them.”
Given their current standing it would be a huge surprise if either Elneny or Mustafi played any part in Saturday’s Premier League trip to Liverpool.
The only two sides with two wins from two meet at Anfield in the evening kick-off and Emery insists he is ready to hand club-record signing Nicolas Pepe his first Arsenal start.
“The most important thing is, like a person, to help him and his family to feel comfortable here,” Emery said of the £72million man.
“Now he is three weeks into working here with us. He didn’t do the pre-season here but he’s progressively feeling better.
“For example, in the first match, he played 15 minutes in Newcastle, then he played 45 minutes against Burnley. I think his individual performances are progressively getting better.
“For Saturday, he is maybe ready to have more minutes. I am going to decide tomorrow, but really his progress has been positive and has been good for the team and for him.
“The most important piece of the adaptation is to help him to feel easy and be comfortable with us.”
Mesut Ozil and Granit Xhaka are also both expected to be available having recovered from the minor issues which saw them miss the 2-1 win over Burnley last time out.
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Struggling to pick out the facts from the figures? Reality from the rubbish? Sense from the silly season?
We’ve got you sorted in our daily dose of the Transfer Predictor, where we round up the latest rumours with an analytical spin.
We sort through the most eye-catching transfer reports of the past 24 hours and give a balanced judgement on whether the move really will happen – and why, or why not.
Today’s edition features Real Madrid, Manchester United and Bayern Munich:
Real Madrid -> €20m -> Paris Saint-Germain
Los Blancos have accepted their No2’s desire to leave and PSG want to bolster their Champions League ambitions with his signature, according to Marca.
Why it will happen: Navas was head coach Zinedine Zidane’s trusted goalkeeper in his first reign in charge. This status, however, is no more second time around thanks to the introduction of Belgium’s Thibaut Courtois. Navas’ ability remains unquestioned and his pedigree as a three-times UCL winner makes him a solid pick for PSG. With lines of communication open between the clubs for Neymar, a deal seems inevitable before September 2’s transfer cut-off.
Why it won’t happen: A deal was arranged between the sides last summer, only for PSG to eventually baulk at the €20m price tag. The evolving Neymar situation could provide more twists and turns for numerous deals – including Navas.
Transfer Predictor: 8/10
Unattached -> Free -> Manchester United
The Red Devils remain uninterested in the veteran Spain striker and will not move for him even if Alexis Sanchez departs for Inter Milan, according to the Daily Mail.
Why it will happen: Reports in Italy – where Llorente previously played with Juventus – had stated that a two-year deal had been agreed to take the statuesque centre forward to Old Trafford. His status as a free agent means that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men can still snap the former Tottenham Hotspur man up, even though the English transfer window closed a fortnight ago. A few adverse results or injuries to United’s slim attacking pool may see interest registered.
Why it won’t happen: At 34-years old, Llorente is the antithesis of United’s current transfer policy. Short-term options are being eschewed after several high-profile failures – one of which is Sanchez. Negotiations are also tense between United and Inter about the share of the Chile forward’s wages during his loan, meaning a stay is likely at present. This would further negate the need for Llorente.
Transfer Predictor: 2/10
Bayern Munich -> €25m -> Lille
Sanches’ nightmare stint in the Bundesliga will be brought to a permanent end by Lille if initial talks reach a positive conclusion, according to L’Equipe.
Why it will happen: Sanches’ miserable stint at Bavaria took a downturn this week. An interview with Sport1 in which the 22-year-old complained about his lack of minutes and stated a desire to leave caused a €10,000 fine. This has opened up opportunity for Lille to swoop for a midfielder who, don’t forget, was named Young Player of the Tournament at Euro 2016 and cost Bayern an initial €35m. Fellow Portuguese Luis Campos is sporting director at Lille, with his sharp mind likely spotting a potential bargain.
Why it won’t happen: There is a significant element of risk about this deal for Lille. Sanches has lost his spark since breaking through at Benfica. A loan deal to Swansea City for 2017/18 was an unmitigated disaster and he contributed precious little as they slipped out of the Premier League. Wages may also be a factor.
Transfer Predictor: 9/10
What the papers say
Huge offers from Spanish giants Barcelona and Real Madrid to lure Brazil forward Neymar from Paris St Germain have fallen on deaf ears. Barca’s first bid for a loan move with a 150million euros (£137million) option to buy the 27-year-old has been rejected, with PSG wanting 250m euros (£229m), according to Marca. And L’Equipe reports PSG have turned down a big offer from Real of 100m euros (£91.4m) plus three players – Gareth Bale, James Rodriguez and goalkeeper Keylor Navas.
Marca also reports that Navas has handed in a transfer request. Meanwhile, Juventus are poised to try to poach striker Luis Suarez from Barca should the Catalan club land Neymar, The Sun reports.
Chelsea are set to stave off Bayern Munich’s advances towards Callum Hudson-Odoi by tying down the exciting young winger with a five-year deal worth £200,000 a week, according to The Sun. Bayern have had transfer bids of up to £35million for the England star turned down, with Chelsea poised to sign him to a contract worth £52million through to 2024.
Manchester United are keen to sign Borussia Dortmund’s England international winger Jadon Sancho in the January transfer window. The Sun reports United are preparing a £100m bid for the 19-year-old.
United face a whopping payout of £36million if Alexis Sanchez completes a permanent move to Inter Milan, the Mirror reports. Sanchez’s current deal with United – running till 2022 – brings the Chile international £500,000 a week. With Inter willing to pay him only £150,000 a week, making up the shortfall will cost the Old Trafford club the £36million figure to be rid of the 30-year-old.
Social media round-up
Man Utd star Tahith Chong snubbed PSV and Feyenoord transfers to fight for first-team place under Solskjaer https://t.co/t1DBMGQRp5— The Sun Football ⚽ (@TheSunFootball) August 21, 2019
Players to watch
Kai Havertz: Liverpool, Manchester City, Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea are some of the major European clubs interested in signing the 20-year-old, who is valued at £91m, from Bayer Leverkusen, according to German TV station Sport1.
Thiago Almada: The 18-year-old midfielder from Argentina’s Velez Sarsfield is yet to re-sign with his club, and Manchester United are eyeing him off, according to Portuguese website A Bola, via the Manchester Evening News.