Mikel Arteta already has £45m Bukayo Saka Arsenal back-up plan after pre-season experiment

The Gunners have been on the look out for a potential back up to the England international this summer, but Arteta may have already found his man

It’s been an exciting transfer window so far for Arsenal. The Gunners started early by bringing in Kai Havertz from Chelsea and have not looked back since.

Deals for Declan Rice and Jurrien Timber are expected to be announced in the coming days after both completed their medicals on Friday. This will take Arsenal’s summer spending to north of £200million already, but Edu has shown no signs that he wants to stop there.

The Gunners continue to be linked with a midfielder amid uncertainty over Thomas Partey’s future. The Ghanaian is the subject of interest from Italian clubs, and football.london understands that Arsenal would be willing to let him leave at the right price. He would require replacing though, with Romeo Lavia among the names to have been linked.

Another part of the pitch where Edu may look to strengthen the squad is in the forward areas. Reiss Nelson recently extended his contract with the club, but with Nicolas Pepe no longer a part of Mikel Arteta’s plans, when it comes to an out and out back up for Bukayo Saka, Arsenal are arguably lacking. However, it seems as though Arteta may have found an alternative already.

Arsenal got their pre-season fixture list underway on Saturday with a behind closed doors friendly against Watford. The game ended 1-1, after Marquinhos provided a second half equaliser to Ismael Kone’s strike just before half time.

While Arteta made several changes across the course of the match, his starting XI was interesting. With several players still away after representing their countries over the most recent international break, the Spaniard opted for an experimental line up. Arguably the most intriguing selection came up top where he opted for a front three of Nelson, Eddie Nketiah and Gabriel Jesus.

In the past such a selection would have seen Nketiah as the man starting on the wings, but this time around Arteta opted to play Jesus on the right. It’s a position that the Brazilian knows well having played their regularly during his final season at Manchester City before his £45million transfer last summer.

While Jesus has hinted in the past that he prefers to play as a nine, he certainly has the skillset to operate in this role on a regular basis if required. Arteta has previously challenged Saka to play 70 games a season, but if there are times when the England international needs a break across the course of the season then it seems that there is back up ready to step in already at the Emirates Stadium.