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Where Arsenal's 7 central midfielders stand under Mikel Arteta ahead of new season

Daily Mirror
Daily Mirror

It is always important to have options in the centre of the pitch, and right now Arsenal certainly have that.

The Gunners are, as it stands, going into the new campaign with at least seven players on their first-team books who are able to play in the centre of midfield, but the futures of over half of them are shrouded in mystery.

Indeed, right now there are probably only three of the seven that you would confidently say will still be at the club come the closure of the transfer window, and one of those only signed last week.

So where do these seven players stand right now?

Let's take a look.

The one carrying the high hopes: Thomas Partey
Partey had a difficult first season at Arsenal (Image: Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

So desperate were Arsenal supporters to hail the signing of Partey as a success last summer that they probably cut him a lot more slack than other players across the course of his first Premier League season.

Injuries were undoubtedly an issue for Ghanaian, as was trying to come to terms with the pace of the English game, but he will be all the better for his year of learning.

Arteta will hope that the injuries don't emerge in this campaign, as if they don't then then is a real opportunity for the former Atletico Madrid midfielder to become one of the first names on the teamsheet.

The one still looking to get out: Lucas Torreira
Torreira made 26 appearances for Atletico Madrid last season (Image: NurPhoto/PA Images)

The Uruguayan's descent from being seen as the tough-tackling heartbeat of an Arsenal revolution to becoming surplus to requirements was a fairly swift one, so much so that he's become something of a forgotten man.

Torreira did make 26 appearances during a loan spell at Atletico last season, but after failing to really pull up any trees he's now back in north London.

The former Sampdoria midfielder has been linked with several switches back to Italy but things seem to have gone quiet on that front for now, as other more pressing names take over at the front of the Arsenal transfer conversation.

Surely he'll leave if the Gunners can find a buyer though, as it would be better for both his career and for Arsenal's future plans.

The one who can stand anywhere: Ainsley Maitland-Niles
Maitland-Niles is back after a loan at West Brom (Image: Getty Images)

Maitland-Niles' 2020-21 season started with a senior international debut and ended with him being relegated to the Championship, but such is the life of the versatile performer you're never quite sure what you're going to get.

At 24 next month though, Maitland-Niles could do with some certainty, and it is clear that the Gunners will be willing to sell him if it means they can raise money for some of their own summer transfer targets.

His performances at West Brom showed that deserves a go in central midfield in the Premier League for someone, and you get the feeling he will move on in the coming weeks.

That could be an exit that Arsenal come to regret given Maitland-Niles's versatility, but at his age and with his ambitions then a change of scenery looks advisable.

The one who's just arrived: Albert Sambi Lokonga
Lokonga got a runout in a behind closed doors friendly at the weekend (Image: Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

Lokonga was a name linked with the Gunners from very early in the transfer window, and so it was no surprise to see them wrap up the deal from Anderlecht last week.

However it probably would be a surprise if the Belgian made a deep and sustained impact on the Gunners in his first season.

He is just 21 after all, and so patience needs to be shown with a player who would do very well to make himself a valued squad member during his first season in English football.

The one who has refused to go away: Mohamed Elneny
There was some surprise when Elneny returned from his loan spell at Besiktas last summer (Image: Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

You'd have been forgiven for forgetting all about Elneny when he joined Besiktas on loan for the 2019-20 season, but since his return under Arteta the Egyptian has been determined to hold onto a role in the Spaniard's plans.

He played 41 times for the Gunners last season, he most appearances for them in any campaign, he doesn't look to be going anywhere as he heads into the next campaign either.

Elneny has established himself as a useful option for Arteta, and he'll want to continue in that vein.

The one who turned heads: Joe Willock
Willock had a wonderful loan spell at Newcastle at the back end of last season (Image: Getty Images)

More of an attacking midfielder than a central one, Willock's eye for goal was clinically on show as he incredibly scored seven goals in the last seven games of the season for Newcastle.

Those strikes will have added a few million to his transfer value, and it would appear that the Gunners are still more than open to selling him this summer, with the Magpies now doubtless facing competition for him.

An exit would still appear on the cards, even if he's probably deserved a shot at Arteta's first-team.

The one who needs a new challenge: Granit Xhaka
Xhaka impressed for Switzerland at the Euros (Image: POOL/AFP via Getty Images)

When he's on his game then you really can't doubt that Xhaka can be a midfielder who exerts his authority on proceedings, and that is the quality that has doubtless drawn Jose Mourinho towards signing him for Roma.

Whether or not he completes the transfer remains to be seen, but this has become one of those moves that you really think needs to happen for the player as well as both the buying and selling clubs.

It has stalled a little, but you'd still expect it to be completed.

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