Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has hinted the club may have to sell players before they can buy in the January transfer window after admitting they are “restricted” by the size of their squad.
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The Gunners were unable to move on several fringe players in the summer with Sokratis Papastathopoulos, Sead Kolasinac and Mesut Ozil among those made available only to stay at the club.
Arteta is keen to strengthen in January although he will need to raise funds to help finance any major incomings after triggering Thomas Partey’s £45 million release clause to sign him from Atletico Madrid on deadline day in September.
The Gunners retain an interest in signing another midfielder with RB Salzburg’s Dominik Szoboszlai and Lyon’s Houssem Aouar among the names on their shortlist, while Arteta would also like to strengthen at centre-back.
But Arteta has suggested any move is likely to depend on trimming a bloated first-team group that prompted him to leave out Sokratis, Ozil and £27m signing William Saliba from his Premier League and Europa League squads.
“We are planning, talking with [technical director] Edu and with the club about the things we can do in January,” he said.
“But at the moment it’s pretty difficult, unpredictable as well. In terms of places, we are very restricted in the moment. We’ll see what happens, I think things will move in the market, we will be prepared, we will need to do something knowing the limitations of that market in January and the limitations we have as well to sign players.”
Arsenal are 14th in the Premier League ahead of Sunday’s north London derby at Tottenham and Arteta admitted his team is still some distance from challenging for the game’s biggest prizes again.
“As I said before, even when we were winning we were still a long, long way from what I want,” he said. “And when we’re losing you obviously see things even further, but again the margins between where we were losing and winning have sometimes been really, really small. There are reasons for it and it’s going to take time, I’m sorry.”