Arsenal’s Arteta hints at major squad overhaul this summer following Europa League defeat

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has hinted that he is planning a major overhaul of their squad this summer.

The club are almost certain to miss out on European football next season for the first time in 25 years after crashing out of the Europa League at the semifinal stage to Villarreal while occupying ninth place in the Premier League.

Arteta retains the support of senior figures at the Emirates but that has not prevented an inquest into a hugely disappointing season with fans set to continue protesting owners Kroenke Sports Enterprises’ running of the club.

Some fans have also called on Arteta to be sacked but he appeared to suggest he had done the best he could with the players at his disposal.

“They [the fans] are entitled to their opinions,” he said at a news conference on Tuesday. “The only way I can prove [myself] is by having a team that performs on the pitch and makes them proud. That’s the only thing that I can do.

“The only thing I can be judged on is do I create the necessary environment for a top, elite team to compete at the higher level and get everybody in the condition to do their best? And after that, do I get the best out of the players that I have? The maximum, whatever the level is, do I get the best out of that?

“This is how I judge myself and at the end, in the outside world, how I am going to be judged is just with results, nothing else. What we’ve done good before, in the past, in the process… It’s irrelevant. It’s only what you get from that result when you are on that pitch.

“Now it is how we evolve, there are a lot of things that had to be done and they have been done, a lot of changes to make and a lot of them have been made. Now it is time to evolve. To evolve you to have to take things so that when they are a little more settled and established, take them to the next level.”

Those changes include agreeing a mutual termination of contracts with Mesut Ozil, Sokratis Papastathopoulos and Shkodran Mustafi in January, three players who Arteta believed had become troublesome influences on the squad.

Arsenal are expected to attempt a clear-out of several first-team players with ESPN revealing in February that Hector Bellerin is likely to lead the exodus as part of an agreement with Arteta, in which the defender agreed to stay for one more year having wanted to move on last summer.

Matteo GuendouziAinsley Maitland-Niles and Eddie Nketiah are among a host of other first-team players set to be made available as the club seeks to raise funds to finance an overhaul of the squad.

Asked specifically what the top priority in that “evolution” he described was, Arteta replied: “We will see what happens in the summer.

“There are so many things to do because we already have a lot of players on loan and a lot of players with contracts still that we need to sort. It will depend what happens with a lot of those players and what we are able to recruit to improve the team, that is going to determine where we are.

“We’ve been sitting down the whole year. We’ve been in constant communication and things will change, some things will stick to the plan that we already had and some other things will come out. But we sit down very, very regularly to talk about those things.”

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