The discussion surrounding Nuno Tavares‘ future at Arsenal is a surprise considering how little time has passed since his arrival at the club last summer.
Whilst it may be a shock that a player involved in what many consider to be one of Arsenal’s best summer transfer windows in their history could leave a year later, it is not out of character.
Mikel Arteta has a history of making these types of decisions during his time at the club.
The Spanish manager has brought in and not renewed the contracts of a number of players that have either left or are expected to leave at the end of this season.
The examples range from first-team regulars to those on the fringes, with Tavares somewhere in between those two positions.
The Portuguese full-back has been Kieran Tierney’s understudy but has been called upon plenty due to the Scot’s unreliable fitness record.
Tavares has 11 Premier League starts this season, scoring against Manchester United and assisting Bukayo Saka in the 2-0 win over Newcastle.
Despite some strong performances in the first half of the season, 2022 has not been a good year for him.
Subbed off against both Nottingham Forest and Crystal Palace before the second half, mistakes defensively have made the 22-year-old look vulnerable.
We return to the discussion of his future.
Four transfer decisions both made and expected to be made from Arteta point toward the Arsenal manager not being shy about moving on his own players.
Arteta’s first signing for the club, a poor season in which the Brazilian became unsettled due to inconsistent performances and fan backlash led to Arteta coming to an agreement with Willian that his contract would be mutually terminated before the former Chelsea player joined Corinthians.
The now Barcelona striker was convinced by Arteta, who he credits with being the key factor behind deciding to stay, to sign an extension in 2020.
Arteta publicised disciplinary breaches from the Gabon international, leading to Aubameyang losing the captaincy and his swift exit from the Emirates last winter.
Finally, both Pablo Mari and Alex Runarsson were signed by Arteta on permanent deals in 2020 but are expected to move on.
Runarsson was loaned to Belgian side OH Leuven last summer and Mari joined Udinese this January, where he has since expressed hopes of remaining next season.
These four players demonstrate Arteta’s openness to reflecting on his prior choices and making a U-turn when required.
There remains one key influence that looks to almost seal Tavares‘ fate.
London understands that Arsenal are interested in Bologna left-back, 19-year-old Aaron Hickey.
A €20m fee is expected to be what it takes to sign the Scot, more than double the figure the Gunners paid for Tavares.
Signing another full-back who could overtake Tavares would be a big signal of intent that the player is not in Arteta’s mind to be a long-term part of his first-team plans.
Considering Tavares was linked to Manchester City at the end of last year, it has been quite the change in fortune.
This ruthlessness of squad management is exactly what Arsenal need.
To get to the top, the Gunners need to have players that produce week after week.
If someone is not showing enough to the coach, instead of persisting and hoping they will improve, signing someone better is the sign of a team with ambition.