25th August, 2023
Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta has called for the Saudi Pro League transfer window to close in line with Europe’s – but refused to rule out selling players beyond September 1.
Some of football’s top names have made the move to Saudi Arabia this summer as PIF investment in four of the country’s top clubs has allowed for a vast increase in transfer fees.
Arsenal host Fulham in the Premier League on Saturday and, while the Gunners have not lost any of their squad to Saudi, their visitors will be without talismanic forward Aleksandar Mitrovic, who moved to Al-Hilal last week.
Head coach Marco Silva rejected overtures from the Gulf before the start of the new season while winger Willian was also unsettled by transfer speculation.
The Premier League window closes next Friday but Saudi clubs will be able to sign and register new players until September 20, something Arteta believes needs to be addressed.
Asked if the extra two and a half weeks to conclude business was fair, the Spaniard replied: “No, because it is a competitor now. No, I think we have to change that.”
Pushed on whether the Pro League deadline should fall in line with Europe, Arteta continued: “That is my opinion, yes.
“It is another competitor and it brings other opportunities for players, for managers and for people that work in the industry to decide.
“In the end, we are free to decide when clubs, players or whoever has to agree to something, you have to have the intention to go and find agreements, that is why there are contracts.
“If people agree to go it is because someone agrees to go there but that someone agreed to sell him, so it goes two or three different ways.”
No Arsenal players have headed to the Middle East this summer but there has been reported interest from Saudi clubs in both Gabriel Magalhaes and Thomas Partey.
While he wants to see a uniform transfer deadline, Arteta stopped short of saying Arsenal will refuse to sell players beyond the Premier League’s window closing on September 1.
“Well, the principle would be that (we would not consider offers),” he said.
“But I cannot make the decision for the club. It is a lot of people involved in that process and they would have for sure a say, the ownership, would do the same.
“It would be on the table like with any offer and you have to look at it. The only thing I’m saying is it’s not ideal because they are a competitor.”
Asked if losing a player after the window closed would be destabilising, he added: “Yes, very much. Yes.”
Arsenal welcome their London rivals having won their first two league games and could welcome Gabriel Jesus back from knee surgery to play a part on Saturday.
The Brazil forward went under the knife for a minor procedure before the start of the campaign but Arteta is hopeful he could feature against Fulham.
“It was a big blow for him after the pre-season he had to have another surgery. He’s looking really sharp. He trained the full week good. He’s ready to go, that is great,” he added.