Mikel Arteta set for crunch talks with Arsenal duo once £105m Declan Rice transfer is finalised

The Gunners primary focus is Declan Rice but Mikel Arteta will soon have conversations with a Gunners duo about their respective futures

Emile Smith Rowe and Nicolas Pepe are both planning to hold talks with Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta over their futures. The duo endured challenging 2022/23 campaigns with injuries a significant factor that limited minutes for Smith Rowe at Emirates Stadium and on loan at Nice for Pepe.

The current focus for Arteta is on Declan Rice after the Gunners reached a verbal agreement with West Ham over a £105million deal. Two bids, each totalling £90million, had been rejected by the Hammers which in turn saw Manchester City enter the race with a formal offer.

However, the latest package from north London met West Ham’s valuation by hitting the triple figure mark and thus negotiations began. Sorting the payment structure was seen as a minor stumbling block but any issues appear to have been resolved and West Ham expect the transfer to be finalised on Monday, as per The Sun.

With the Gunners hoping Kai Havertz will be joined by Rice as a summer addition, talks are expected to also take place involving several current first-team stars. Smith Rowe will certainly be one of those after injuries plagued the last campaign for the 22-year-old, however, despite interest from Aston Villa, he is expected to stay at the club.

 

Instead talks with Arteta will be on a very different topic. “I did see a lot of talk about my position but I’m not really sure what they think [at the club],” Smith Rowe told The Sun. “I’m happy to play anywhere. Maybe it is inside, maybe it’s wide. I’ll be having that conversation when I get back.”

With the importance of Granit Xhaka made clear last season, Arteta began using Smith Rowe in an advanced midfield role on the training pitches at London Colney. The Switzerland international departing after seven years looked to open the door for Smith Rowe in that role, but the arrival of Havertz could make things challenging as he is seen as a midfielder by Arteta.

Pepe is another player who faces an uncertain future following a challenging his loan spell in Ligue 1 with Nice. From 19 appearances in the league, Pepe managed six goals and one assist, although he missed a large portion of the season with a knee injury.

The £72million man has now provided an update on his immediate future when speaking to YouTube channel Colinterview. He said: “I will return to Arsenal. I was loaned without an option to buy so I have to go back to Arsenal. I don’t know [about my future] yet. When I get back, I’ll speak with the coach and everyone and see what everyone’s ideas are and then we’ll make a decision.”

It is expected that Arsenal will sanction a permanent sale this summer for Pepe and could even possibly terminate his contract, which has one year remaining, if no suitors arrive.