The Frenchman, Shkodran Mustafi and Nacho Monreal could follow Stephan Lichtsteiner out of the door at the Emirates this summer
Stephan Lichtsteiner could be followed out of the Arsenal exit door by at least two more experienced defenders this summer as Unai Emery attempts to shake up the Gunners’ much maligned defence.
The Switzerland international, who arrived from Juventus on a free transfer last year, announced on social media on Monday that he would be leaving the Emirates after just 12 months following an unsuccessful spell in north London.
Arsenal could have kept Lichtsteiner for another season, but – as Goal revealed in May – Emery opted not to take up the option in the 35-year-old’s contract which would have seen it extended until the end of the 2019-20 campaign.
And the former Juventus star is not the only defender expected to move on from Arsenal this summer following a season which saw the Gunners ship 50 goals in the Premier League.
Skipper Laurent Koscielny could leave, as could Nacho Monreal and Shkodran Mustafi, with the club open to offers for all three players.
Koscielny has been with Arsenal since 2010 and battled back to full fitness this season following 10 months out due to a ruptured Achilles.
The 33-year-old still has a year left on his current deal, but is open to a new challenge – with Turkish side Fenerbahce one of several clubs believed to be interested
Fenerbahce’s director of football, Damien Comolli, travelled to the Europa League final in Baku last week for transfer talks, with midfielder Mohamed Elneny also believed to be on his agenda.
A return to France could be an option for Koscielny, with German side Bayer Leverkusen also said to be in the running.
Monreal, meanwhile, also has a year left on his contract after Arsenal took up an option to extend his stay during the second half of last season.
But with Emery keen to return to a flat back four next season and also looking to reduce the age of his squad, Arsenal would be open to letting Monreal leave should an acceptable offer come in.
Another player who could be allowed to leave is Calum Chambers, despite the 24-year-old having enjoyed a fine spell out on loan with Fulham.
The former Southampton man was named player of the season at Craven Cottage, although the majority of his 33 appearances came playing in a defensive midfield role.
Chambers will return to Arsenal this summer and does not want to be loaned out again.
He has fallen behind Rob Holding in the pecking order at the Emirates, however, and Holding is hopeful of returning from his cruciate ligament injury within the first two months of the 2019-20 campaign.
So with Chambers’ stock relatively high due to his displays for Fulham, a tempting enough bid could see Arsenal cash in to bolster the transfer budget, which currently stands at around £45m.
Emery is looking to clear the decks in defence to fund some new arrivals which he believes are necessary to improve a backline which has conceded 51 and 50 league goals in the past two seasons.
Goal understands teenage Saint-Etienne centre-back William Saliba is a top target , with Arsenal having scouted the France youth international several times since the turn of the year.
Saliba only signed a new long-term contract with the Ligue 1 side in April, but Saint-Etienne are aware it will be difficult to keep hold of their talented young defender amid mounting interest from overseas.
Samuel Umtiti at Barcelona has been mentioned, but the France international looks to be financially out of reach – despite Barcelona being more than happy to allow him to leave.
Arsenal have put the feelers out to several agents across Europe asking about the potential availability of certain defenders, but their failure to secure qualification for the Champions League has severely limited what targets they can focus on.
Scouts watched Crystal Palace’s Aaron Wan-Bissaka extensively last season, with the club concerned about going into the coming campaign without a recognised right-back due to Hector Bellerin’s injury.
But a potential move for Wan-Bissaka is now all but impossible due to the funds involved, with Paris Saint-Germain right-back Thomas Meunier being viewed as a cheaper option.
Manchester United are also interested in Meunier, who admits he could leave the French capital this summer.
“The press knows more than I do,” said the Belgium international. “There are great clubs, which is very interesting.
“As a player of PSG, you are always in the spotlight. We have the level to join many other clubs. We’ll see.
“I am looking forward to staying in Paris, but if I have to go to another club, I will leave.”