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Four things we learned from Arsenal's pre-season tour squad 

Wednesday 12th July 2017
Arsenal's pre-season tour squad contained few surprises as Arsene Wenger begins preparations for the new season.The Frenchman gave a big hint of things to come with some notable omissions as well as inclusions ahead of trips to Australia and China.  

  A 25-man contingent boarded the Emirates plane to the southern hemisphere. Expectedly, new boys Alexandre Lacazette and Sead Kolasinac were among the first on the flight. Whilst Jack Wilshere and Santi Cazorla missed out through injury, the likes of Alexis Sanchez, Hector Bellerin, Calum Chambers, Shkodran Mustafi and Rob Holding also didn't make the party, having been given additional time off due to international commitments.
But surprisingly, five senior players weren't even considered for the trip. They include Lucas Perez, Kieran Gibbs, Mathieu Debuchy, Wojciech Szczesny and Carl Jenkinson, raising real question marks over their respective futures. That said, here's what we learned from the Gunners' squad.

1 - Wenger has given up on Debuchy and Jenkinson

If there were two players almost certain to leave the Emirates even before Sunday's announcements, then it is right-backs, Mathieu Debuchy and Carl Jenkinson. Both have had titanic tasks proving themselves to everyone at the club. In addition, the superb form of the aforementioned Bellerin hasn't done their cases any good, garnering a meagre 28 league appearances between them in three years. Now it appears Wenger has had enough and is looking for any means whatsoever to get rid of them. Even in Bellerin's absence, the Gunners boss still preferred to travel without any recognisable right-sided defender, all but confirming they're no longer part of his plans.

2 - Lacazette arrival knocks Perez to the woods

Immediately after Arsenal completed the club-record signing of Lacazette from Lyon, imminent trouble loomed for the other strikers in the team, especially Olivier Giroud. It was even speculated that the arrival of his countryman could as well spell the end to his time in North London. But no, the 30-year-old isn't going anywhere, at least for the next fortnight. Rather it is Perez, who only joined Arsenal last season, that was sacrificed. Prior to Lacazette's arrival, Perez was the Gunners' fourth choice striker, behind Sanchez, Danny Welbeck and Giroud, amassing a dreadful 11 league games. And things could get even worst for the nomadic Spaniard should he decide to remain at the club next season.

3 - Szczesny's Juventus move closer than ever

Just when Arsenal fans thought they'd see Petr Cech and Wojciech Szczesny go toe-to-toe over who becomes the club's undisputed first choice, the man Wenger had other plans. Szczesny managed to reinvent his career in Italy after being forced out on loan following Cech's arrival in 2015. His stock has since risen; so high that almost all Serie A sides want him. Yet, the 27-year-old opted to return to the Emirates with the hope of competing with the man responsible for his ouster two years ago. But that won't be possible. Szczesny's snub by Wenger is an indication that the Polish international is surplus to requirements, hence should look elsewhere. Juventus are favourites to land the player whom they consider as the long-term replacement for Gianluigi Buffon.

4 - Youngsters still in Wenger's plans

Times are changing at Arsenal with the club investing more on established stars rather than grooming and nurturing promising talents. As a result, some had to walk away; most notably, Kaylen Hinds and Chris Bullock to Wolfsburg and Benfica respectively. Well, the situation may not be as bad as earlier envisaged considering Wenger offered six young lads slots on the flight to Sydney. Cohen Bramall – signed from non-league Hednesford Town in January, Donyell Malen, Joe Willock, Eddie Nketiah and Reiss Nelson are included as is Ainsley Maitland-Niles who seems the most likely to follow in the footsteps of Alex Iwobi.
Toby Prince

If the sport has 11-men on each side, a ball and lasts for 90 minutes then I'll write about it. Simply put, I'm an unrepentant soccer freak that other freaks will, however, call a geek. I do find time for music when not watching the beautiful game, though and have been known to produce the odd track. 

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