Mikel Arteta acknowledged Arsenal are heading for one of their most pivotal transfer windows in recent history as he aims to get the Gunners competing back at the top of the Premier League.
It has been a campaign of inconsistency for Arsenal, who are 10th in the table and realistically will only be playing European football next season if they win the Europa League.
That route is certainly no easy path given they trail 2-1 to Villarreal after the first leg of their semi-final tie, ahead of the return clash at Emirates Stadium on Thursday.
It promises to be another close season of rebuilding for Arteta, with veteran centre-back David Luiz out of contract, Alexandre Lacazette entering the final year of his contract, and Martin Odegaard and Dani Ceballos due to return to Real Madrid when their loan deals expire.
Decisions also need to be made on the futures of Matteo Guendouzi, Lucas Torreira, Ainsley Maitland-Niles and Joe Willock, who are all out on loan, while Hector Bellerin and Eddie Nketiah have been tipped for exits to raise funds.
Fan discontent with the Kroenke family, the club’s owners, grew in the wake of the decision to sign up for the ill-fated Super League, and led to talk of a takeover bid from Spotify CEO Daniel Ek.
The Kroenke family responded by insisting the club is not for sale and Josh Kroenke recently said he was “excited” about plans for the forthcoming window.
For Arteta, the significance of the upcoming months is not lost.
When asked by Sky Sports if this is the most pivotal window in years, Arteta replied: “Yes, because a lot of things have happened in the last few transfer windows. There are a lot of players in various situations.
“It’s crucial. We want to go to the next level and there are a lot of things we need to do to get there.”
While the futures of several players remain up in the air, Arteta has continued his show of faith in the club’s young talent by tying down Bukayo Saka and Folarin Balogun to long-term deals.
Emile Smith Rowe is another who has emerged as a breakout performer for Arsenal this season and Arteta says talks will take place over an extension to a contract that expires in 2023.
“We are going to have that discussion,” he said.
“I think Emile has earned the right to look at that situation because of the performances that he has produced. He’s very much engaged and wants to continue with us, that’s for sure.”
While Arteta has an eye on the future, the amiable Spaniard is also focused on the here and now and ensuring Arsenal complete the season on a high note.
“I’m really focused on what we have to do now: finish the season as strongly as possible and try to get into that final, which is going to be key for us,” he added.
“Where we want to get to will depend on a lot of things; how we end the season, where we end up, what ability and prospects we’ll have for next season. Everything is a reflection of what happens now.”