Four Arsenal fringe men who could be key for Mikel Arteta next season as trio return

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Mikel Arteta will welcome back four players from loan spells ahead of pre-season but is expected to hand only a couple of them a chance to prove their worth in the first-team

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Premier League club’s priority signings this summer

Arsenal are preparing for another important transfer window as Mikel Arteta continues to strengthen his ranks ahead of the 2022/23 season.

The Gunners narrowly missed out on Champions League football after finishing fifth in the Premier League last campaign. However, Arsenal are expected to have another major reshuffle to their squad as they try and make that next step and qualify for the top tier of European football.

A number of players have already been linked with a move to the Emirates Stadium this summer, including Gabriel Jesus and Youri Tielemans. The Gunners could also call on a couple of players who have either struggled for game time or been out on loan in recent times – but are now ready for their opportunity to impress. William Saliba, Reiss Nelson, Lucas Toreirra Hector Bellerin all spent time out on loan last term, but only two feature in this list.

So, with that in mind, here is a look at four fringe players who could be key for Arteta’s side next season.

William Saliba

The 20-year-old was named the Ligue 1 Young Player of the Year after putting in a string of excellent performances as Marseille finished second in the French top tier behind runaway champions Paris Saint-Germain. Saliba made 52 appearances across all competitions and became a firm fans’ favorite at Les Phoceens.

He was also rewarded with a place in the Ligue 1 Team of the Season for his efforts alongside the likes of Kylian Mbappe, Achraf Hakimi and Marquinhos. After a mixed loan spell at Nice during the 2020/21 season, Saliba needed a much-improved stint out with Marseille to impress Arteta, and he did just that.

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William Saliba
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Although Gabriel and Ben White have both impressed at the heart of the Gunners defense, Saliba could give the Spaniard another headache. Confident with the ball at his feet, Saliba broke the record for the most-ever passes in a season in the history of Ligue 1, completing a staggering 2834. There is no doubt he showed qualities to suggest why he could be a regular starter for Arsenal next term.

Reiss Nelson

Like Saliba, Nelson spent the entirety of last season out on loan to gain some first-team experience. The talented winger joined Feyenoord and enjoyed a successful campaign in the Eredivisie, scoring four goals and grabbing seven assists in 33 matches across all competitions.

The 22-year-old also provided a number of important moments as Feyenoord reached the final of the Europa Conference League, eventually losing out to Roma in Albania. Nelson will come back to Arsenal as a more senior figure and ready to fight for a regular senior spot.

Gabriel Martinelli and Bukayo Saka both impressed for the Gunners last term which could make it difficult for Nelson to break into the team immediately. But with European football and more matches to play next term, Arteta will need to rely on some of the fringe players and Nelson could prove to be key for the Gunners.

Eddie Nketiah

It was revealed last month that Nketiah is set to sign a new Arsenal contract until 2027 despite turning down a number of previous new contract offers. The 22-year-old started in each of Arsenal’s final six matches after replacing the outgoing Alexandre Lacazette as the lone striker.

Nketiah impressed in when given his opportunity, scoring five times in the process including a brace in an emphatic win over Chelsea back in April. However, with the potential arrival of Gabriel Jesus from Manchester City, the Arsenal academy graduate could slip back down the pecking order.







Eddie Nketiah
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He spent the first-half of the campaign as a third fiddle to Lacazette and Pierre Emerick-Aubamayeng but is expected to force himself closer to a regular starting place next season. If Nketiah can replicate similar performances to the ones he produced at the back end of last term, he will no doubt be an important player for Arteta both domestically and in Europe.

Albert Sambi Lokonga

The last ‘fringe’ player who could be key for Arteta is Lokonga, who was in and out of the side during his maiden campaign in English football. The 22-year-old made 13 Premier League starts in total with Granit Xhaka and Thomas Partey often preferred as the midfield pivot.

Lokonga was a reliable asset when called upon, though, with the midfielder looking confident in possession and tidy when it comes to the defensive work. The Belgian will likely get more opportunities with the Europa League coming up and Granit Xhaka coming to the latter stages of his career at the Gunners.

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