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Mikel Arteta turns focus to new signings after Arsenal let fringe players leave

Mikel Arteta wants to look at adding players to his Arsenal squad in the coming days.
(Image credit: Peter Cziborra)

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta wants to turn his attention to incomings in the January transfer window with the club continuing to move on those players who have no future at the Emirates Stadium.

Sokratis Papastathopoulos was released from his contract on Wednesday while Mesut Ozil will also be allowed to depart – with his free transfer to Fenerbahce being held up by quarantine rules in Turkey.

Sead Kolasinac and William Saliba have already departed on loan deals as Arteta looks to redress the balance within his squad.

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He would not be drawn on recent reports linking Arsenal with a loan move for Real Madrid attacking midfielder Martin Odegaard but did say his focus would now turn to the entrance door rather than the exit.

“We are in that process now,” Arteta replied when asked if it was now time to start bringing players in.

“We have done the first part more or less and we are focusing now on the second phase.

“Obviously this market and the context makes it difficult, but we are looking at options and we will see what we can do.

“We are looking at various positions because the movement we have made in this window with some players leaving the club has left us a little bit short in certain areas.

“So if we can, we will do it and if we can’t, we will keep going with what we have.”

The PA news agency understands a back-up goalkeeper was identified as a priority earlier in the window.

Kieran Tierney (right) is the only natural left-back in Arteta's first-team squad.

Kieran Tierney, right, is the only natural left-back in Arteta’s first-team squad (Adam Davy/PA)

Arteta also admitted a left-back may also be on the radar, with the decision to allow Kolasinac to join Schalke until the end of the season leaving him with only Kieran Tierney as a natural option.

“With the departure of Kola we are a little bit short with left-footed full-backs at the moment,” he conceded ahead of Saturday’s FA Cup fourth-round tie at Southampton.

“We can use Ainsley (Maitland-Niles), we can use Bukayo (Saka), we can use Cedric (Soares), who have played in that position.

“So we have some unnatural options to Kieran but we can adapt. That option is open and we will be looking to see what is available.”

Both Ozil and Sokratis were omitted from Arsenal’s Premier League and Europa League squads for the first half of the season.

Mesut Ozil is on his way out of Arsenal but his move to Fenerbache is being held up by quarantine rules.

Mesut Ozil is on his way out of Arsenal but his move to Fenerbahce is being held up by quarantine rules (Nick Potts/PA)

Arteta had stressed several times he was unhappy with the bloated squad he was dealing with and now feels the departures will help him keep things on a more even keel.

“We could not carry on with 31 players in the squad,” he added.

“It is unmanageable. And when you have to leave some of the foreign players out, it makes it even more difficult.

“To do it for a few weeks is OK, to do it for months and maintain the health, the ambition and the chemistry is really complicated.

“So one of the main objectives was to make some decisions about how we are going to offset that. We have done it.”