Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta’s summer transfer plans will need to consider a unique challenge he will face at the beginning of 2024.
The Africa Cup of Nations, scheduled to take place in the Ivory Coast between January 13 and February 11, could result in the absence of Mohamed Elneny and Thomas Partey for up to a month if they are called up by their respective nations, Egypt and Ghana.
Coinciding with the Africa Cup of Nations, the 2023 AFC Asian Cup will also be underway.
Following Japan’s qualification for the tournament in Qatar, Arsenal might lose Takehiro Tomiyasu for a similar duration, particularly if Japan reaches the final.
Originally planned to be held in China this summer, the tournament was later relocated to Qatar due to the COVID-19 situation. The Asian Cup will commence on January 12 and conclude on February 10.
Japan has been drawn in Group D alongside Indonesia, Iraq, and Vietnam, with Vietnam being their first opponents on January 14.
If Japan advances to the final, Arteta could be without Tomiyasu for a total of seven games across various competitions.
However, this will depend on the timing of Tomiyasu’s departure and Arsenal’s performance in the FA Cup and Carabao Cup.
Losing Tomiyasu temporarily could pose a challenge for Arsenal, as it would leave them with Benjamin White and Oleksandr Zinchenko as the senior full-back options for a month that includes four Premier League fixtures and potentially three domestic cup ties.
Zinchenko’s injury record raises concerns, particularly if Tomiyasu permanently moves to another club next season.
While Kieran Tierney is a quality full-back, his strengths lie in the overlapping role rather than the inverted role.
Furthermore, Tierney has been linked with a move away from Arsenal, potentially leaving the club with only three senior full-backs.
To address the potential absence of Tomiyasu, Arteta has the option of completing a deal for Jurrien Timber, who can operate at right-back.
Alternatively, he can consider Jakub Kiwior as cover for Zinchenko at left-back if the need arises in January.
Arteta’s summer transfer plans must factor in these possible scenarios to ensure adequate cover and depth in the full-back positions.
With the potential departures of Tierney and Tomiyasu, it becomes crucial for Arsenal to reinforce their defensive options to navigate the challenges that lie ahead in the early part of 2024.