Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger is reportedly ready for a huge summer sale at the Emirates Stadium – and it makes perfect sense.
The Gunners have showed since the turn of the year that they are still a force to be reckoned with in the Premier League, but fall short of top two Manchester United and Manchester City.
It’s to the credit of Wenger that the north London side has clawed its way back into the position of third, with many happy to write-off the Frenchman following a disastrous start to the current campaign.
But, unlike Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur, Arsenal have managed to come-on strong in recent months. How? By finding a winning formula and sticking to it.
Looking at the Gunners’ squad this season, only 17 players have made over 10 appearances from their 30 Premier League games. That includes Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain (10) and Kieran Gibbs (10), whilst Andrey Arshavin (19) has left the club on loan.
Fringe players have been used sparingly to say the least by Wenger, with Park Chu-Young and Sebastien Squillaci making just one substitute appearance in the league each.
Marouane Chamakh has been involved eight times, but started just one game for the north London outfit, whilst Nicklas Bendtner made a substitute appearance before leaving for Sunderland on loan.
Goalkeeper Manuel Almunia has not made a single appearance for the club in any competition, whilst Vito Mannone’s substitute run-out in Europe was a night to forget for the club. Lukasz Fabianski has also only featured in the Cup.
Whilst one of the three goalkeepers would need to be retained, the Daily Mail reports that Almunia currently takes home a weekly wage of £60,000.
The bad news continues, with Chamakh earning the same amount, whilst Bendtner and Squillaci take home £50,000. For Park, the £40,000 a week salary seems inflated given minimal input. Wenger should cut his losses quickly here.
Denilson, on loan at Sao Paulo, is another earning £50k a week, according to the report, whilst Carlos Vela earns the same figure without ever touching the first team - another serial loaner who needs to be cut.
Throw in Arshavin, earning £75,000 a week, and you have eight players taking home £435,000 on a weekly basis. That’s £23 million in salary over a year period.
Add one other goalkeeper, plus any young players Wenger doesn’t think can make the grade, and that figure could go up even more.
Additionally, funds from player sales could be generated. Almunia is set to leave on a free transfer at the end of the season, but the Gunners could pick up some decent cash for Arshavin and Bendtner, whilst any fee for Chamakh would be a profit after he originally joined on a free.
For the other four previously mentioned, the Frenchman will have a figure in mind and should look to take as much as possible. They have all under-performed during the spells with the club.
To be successful, a team does need to have certain levels of depth though, and where Arsenal struggle is in that area. These players are simply not good enough to take the club to the next level.
But replacing them with quality – three high-class players who can genuinely challenge others currently in the first team – is the way forward. With three strikers heading this exit list, landing Lukas Podolski is a priority.
Keeping the current first team ‘regulars’ happy is another key task, with Robin Van Persie’s contract situation understandably playing on the minds of everyone involved at the club. With additional funds available, the club can break their pay structure in an effort to keep the prolific Dutchman at the club.
Theo Walcott also needs a new contract, as the England international’s deal also expires at the end of next season. Alex Song and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are in-line for pay rises.
But even after that, some excess money will be available from the player cull to spend on players. Yann M’Vila is constantly named on a mythical Wenger wish-list, whilst Olivier Giroud, Mario Gotze and Eden Hazard also have the ability to improve this team.
All four would come with escalating transfer fees, not to mention the substantial wages that Europe’s elite players demand. Whether Arsenal can compete here is a major question to be answered.
But, with Champions League football set to be on the table, Wenger does have a crucial bargaining chip that not every team will be able to offer.
The club's scouting network is also world renowned, and it wouldn't be a first if 'the professor' brings in a relatively unknown quantity from somewhere obscure.
It will be the big names that get everyone at Arsenal excited though, and if certain players can be shown the door quickly, then their will be know excuse for anyone at the club when August comes round again.