Mikel Arteta’s project at Arsenal revolves around signing young talents and developing them into stars, but the Spaniard may have already given up on Nuno Tavares.
The Gunners have finished fifth in the Premier League season, finishing two points out of the top four after self-destructing towards the end of the campaign and sacrificing Champions League football. Instead, North London rivals Tottenham Hotspur will be playing in the top European competition.
Arteta has insisted that his squad have exceeded expectations, but missing out on the fourth spot will certainly leave the team feeling underwhelmed. And the manager appears to already be set about rejigging his squad and cutting out those who he does not feel are up to scratch.
Tutto Mercato Web report that Arsenal are very interested in signing Getafe left-back Mathias Olivera, though Napoli appear to be leading the race for the 24-year-old. And Olivera is not the only left-back that the club have been linked with over the past few weeks, as Scotland international Aaron Hickey has been tipped to leave Bologna for Arsenal as well.
With that in mind, Tavares may already forced out of the exit at the Emirates Stadium. The Gunners have clearly identified that the left-back position is one that needs improved options and one that Arteta is unhappy with.
First choice left-back Kieran Tierney was one of Arsenal’s key players this season and his absence through injury hit the team hard, and Tavares failed to step up when called upon. Since arriving from Benfica last summer for just £8million, many have questioned if the 22-year-old is good enough for the Gunners.
He has struggled defensively and looked more suited to playing higher up the pitch rather than on the left of a four-man defence – so much so that Granit Xhaka even slotted into fullback instead of Tavares previously. Compared to the likes of Ben White, Aaron Ramsdale and Martin Odegaard, Arteta will feel that the Portugal under-21s international was far from his best piece of business last summer.
And the arrival of Olivera or Hickey would certainly indicate that the Spaniard is willing to cut his losses on the defender. Although Tavares was a cheap acquisition, if a club comes knocking then a fee may be seen as money that can be better spent elsewhere.
Arteta’s project has always had a focus on the future, but he may feel that his team are one or two arrivals away from being able to challenge from silverware – and many will see that as a fair assessment of the situation at the Emirates. The former Manchester City coach has never really shied away from bold decisions and getting rid so one would expect that to apply to if he feels that deadweight is already appearing in his squad. It remains to be seen how much of a priority signing a left-back is for Arsenal this summer, and if it is, whether it means that it is at the expense of Tavares.