Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal in-tray: 5 key issues to sort after Aubameyang extends

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With Pierre-Emerick Aubemayeng's future secured, Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta can breathe a sigh of relief.

Aubameyang has signed a three-year deal, ending months of speculation linking him to the likes of Barcelona, Inter Milan and Manchester United.

The Gabon international's future has been a thorny issue, and with Arsenal having failed to qualify for the Champions League, club bosses had to weigh up whether to cash in on a player who clearly wants to test his talents at the highest level.

But under Arteta's guidance there is renewed optimism at the Emirates, and that appears to have been instrumental in securing the signature of the man who has been Arsenal's top scorer for the past two seasons.

Now that the 31-year-old's contract is sorted, there are other issues for Arteta to resolve as he tries to steer the Gunners back to the top of English football. Here, we take a look at the manager's overflowing in-tray.

Mesut Ozil's future

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Ozil's days at the Emirates appear to be numbered, with the arrival of Willian pushing him even further down the pecking order – but moving him on is proving to be a problem due to his huge wages.

Arteta must weigh up whether to try and sell Ozil or loan him out before the transfer window closes next month, although the midfielder has shown little interest in going anywhere so far.

If he can't be shifted, then the manager must decide whether to try and reintegrate him into the team for the remaining year of his contract – or leave him out in the cold.

Lacazette – should he stay or should he go?

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Like Aubameyang, Alexandre Lacazette has been the subject of much transfer speculation recently.

There has been talk the French forward could leave, amid interest from Juventus and Atletico Madrid, while the emergence of Eddie Nketiah has cast further doubt on Lacazette's future.

However, the 29-year-old has insisted he wants to stay with the Gunners, and did his cause no harm on Saturday when he scored the first goal of a Premier league campaign for the second time.

Lacazette has two years remaining on his contract with Arsenal, so now would be the best time to cash in on him before he starts to lose his transfer value.

But Arteta may decide that a fully firing Lacazette can bring more to the team over the next season or two with his performances on the pitch rather than his worth in the transfer market.

Settling the defence

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Defensive instability has dogged the Gunners for many seasons – but the performance of Gabriel Magalhaes on Saturday has gone some way to easing concerns.

The Brazilian was handed a debut with David Luiz injured, and was commanding in both boxes, even chipping in with a goal.

Arteta must ensure the improvement continues, and that fellow new arrival William Saliba can be similarly integrated in the defence, in order to build the kind of stability at the back from which a top-four push can be launched.

Raising transfer funds

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Arsenal still have Thomas Partey and Houssem Aouar on their radar – but don't necessarily have the funds to pay for them.

Atletico Madrid want £45m for Partey, while Lyon value Aouar at around £10m more than that.

So Arteta must offload players before he can continue to reshape his squad the way he wants to. Emiliano Martinez is off to Aston Villa for £20m – with Arsenal targeting Alex Runar Runarsson as his replacement – and Lucas Torreira looks set to be heading back to Serie A.

But others must be sold to boost transfer funds. So far no one has come in for Matteo Guendouzi, while Sead Kolasinac has reportedly turned down interest from West Ham in order to fight for a place.

That could be a problem in itself – with optimism on the rise following a recent upturn in results, players might not want to leave the Emirates.

Securing a top-four finish

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It is four years since Arsenal finished in the top four, and the Gunners' difficulties in landing their top targets outline just how important that Champions League cash is.

So Arteta will view securing a top-four spot as essential this season – both in financial terms, and so that he and his players are competing on club football's biggest stage.

Finishing in the Champions League places appears to be more difficult than ever, however, with Liverpool and Manchester City leagues ahead of their rivals, Manchester United resurgent, and Chelsea splashing huge amounts of cash on their title challenge.

Then there's the likes of Leicester City and Wolves, who are getting closer each year.

With Arteta having guided his side to two trophies and with the Gunners having got the season off to a good start, the signs are good – the challenge for the manager now is to keep his side focused on the main prize.

  • Mesut Ozil
  • Arsenal FC
  • Mikel Arteta

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