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29-man squad flies out to US as Arsenal begin pre-season tour

Mikel Arteta named a 29-man squad as Arsenal flew out of London for their pre-season tour of the United States at the weekend.

mikel arteta arsenal

Mikel Arteta named a 29-man squad as Arsenal flew out of London for their pre-season tour of the United States at the weekend. The Gunners kicked off their preparations for the new campaign with a behind closed doors friendly against local neighbours Watford earlier this month before heading off to Germany to take on Nurnberg last Thursday evening.

However, the real pre-season begins now as Arsenal flew out to Washington DC on Sunday afternoon for their tour of the United States. Pre-season tours have become an important part of a clubs preparations these days, but they are also lucrative from a business perspective. Arsenal tickets for their games against Barcelona and Man Utd in the US are sold out and the club should earn a lot of money from their trip to the States.

However, Arteta has always said the pre-season tour plays a vital role in getting the squad prepared for the new season. Not only is it an opportunity for the Spaniard to try out formations and tactical tweaks, but it also plays an important part in squad bonding. Arsenal had a great connection between the players last season and it transpired onto the pitch, which helped them mount a serious title challenge. Arteta will hope the players will grow even closer during their time away in the US over the coming weeks.

The former midfielder named a 29-man travelling squad and the usual suspects were all on the plane that flew out of Gatwick on Sunday. Goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale, defenders William Saliba, Ben White, Gabriel Magalhaes, Jakub Kiwior, Takehiro Tomiyasu and Oleksandr Zinchenko have all travelled. Kieran Tierney also made the trip despite question marks surrounding his future at the Emirates Stadium.

Captain Martin Odegaard was on the plane alongside fellow midfielders Jorginho, Fabio Vieira and Mo Elneny. Kai Havertz – who completed his move to Arsenal from Chelsea last month – has travelled and he’ll hope to use the trip to get to know his new team-mates better. Attackers Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Jesus, Gabriel Martinelli, Leandro Trossard and Eddie Nketiah have all travelled to Washington.

Balogun travels

Highly-rated youngster Folarin Balogun was also on the plane and Arteta will be using the trip to take a close look at the striker. Balogun enjoyed an excellent season on loan at Reims last season where he scored 22 goals, but he wants regular football and that’s something he might struggle to get at Arsenal. There has been talk of Arteta cashing in if a £50m bid arrives amid interest from several clubs throughout Europe.

However, if Balogun impresses on tour, it could persuade the Arsenal boss to give him his chance in North London and compete with Jesus for a starting spot. If that were to happen, it would probably mean Nketiah was the man to be sold this summer as it’s highly unlikely both young strikers will be kept this summer. Therefore, it could be a straight shoot-out between Nketiah and Balogun with both fighting for their futures on the pre-season tour.

Three notable names who haven’t travelled are Thomas Partey, Emile Smith Rowe and Reiss Nelson. Smith Rowe is still enjoying some time off following his heroics with the England U21 at the European Championships this summer so he’s expected to link-up with the first team next week. Nelson’s omission is a concern as he’s picked up an injury and it could be serious if he’s not even been allowed to travel to the US. The omission of Partey raised a few eyebrows. The official line is he’ll join the squad next week but there have been no reports of an injury concern for the Ghanaian and many feel he’s been left back in London to secure a move away from the club.

Partey has been strongly linked with a switch to Saudi Arabia as it looks like he’s lost his first team place at Arsenal following the arrival of Declan Rice. So it will be interesting to see whether anything progresses on the transfer front involving Partey over the coming weeks while the squad is away.

New signings on board

Arsenal completed a big-money double swoop for Jurrien Timber and Declan Rice late last week. Timber was signed on Thursday in a £39m deal from Ajax and the defender should prove to be an excellent addition to the squad. Rice’s prolonged move from West Ham was finally announced on Friday with the England international arriving at Arsenal in a British record £105m deal.

Arteta will have been delighted to have got both deals wrapped-up in time for them to make the trip to the United States. The Gunners boss always said he wanted to get the bulk of his transfer business done early so the players had plenty of time to get accustomed to their new surroundings and get up to speed before the new season stats in mid-August.

Timber and Rice can now bond with their new team mates while away on tour and it could prove to be vitally important in helping them hit the ground running at Arsenal. They’ll both get a full pre-season under their belts at their new club, have time to get used to Arteta’s system and learn what’s expected of them. Arteta said last season that the reason Zinchenko and Jesus settled so quickly was because they both joined Arsenal early in the summer and went on to enjoy excellent debut campaigns with the Gunners. They’ll hope the same will be said of Havertz, Rice and Timber in 12 months time.

Upcoming games

Arsenal will kick off their tour of the United States with a game against an MLS All-Star XI at the Audi Field in Washington on Wednesday 19th July. They’ll then take on arch rivals Manchester United at the MetLife Stadium in New Jersey on Saturday 22nd – marking the first time the two clubs have met on American soil. The Gunners wrap-up their US tour with an exciting clash against La Liga champions Barcelona at the SoFi Stadium in LA on the 26th July.

The games against United and Barca should give Arteta a good insight into where his team are compared to their domestic and European rivals. Man Utd will be one of Arsenal’s main challengers in the Premier League while the Gunners could be drawn to face Barca in the Champions League group stages. So Arteta be hoping for two impressive performances to reinforce the fact that Arsenal are back to being genuine contenders this coming season after going so close to winning the Premier League last campaign.

Following the US tour, Arsenal head back to North London to take on Monaco in the Emirates Cup before facing off against Manchester City in the Community Shield on August 6th.

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