At times like these it is perhaps only natural that Arsenal supporters begin dreaming of a bright future when the present is so bleak.
The coronavirus pandemic has robbed much of Europe of any more football for the foreseeable future but even before then there was little to be hugely enthused by in Arsenal’s immediate future with even Europa League football looking to be a slim prospect for the 2020/21 season, assuming the current campaign can be completed.
If there has been a silver lining on the dark cloud that has been hovering over north London this season it has been Arsenal’s youngsters and the knowledge that as good as Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Martinelli and Reiss Nelson have been this year they will be even better in the years to come.
With that in mind, football.london takes a look at how the Gunners could line up under Mikel Arteta – or whoever comes next – in five years’ time.
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Goalkeeper: Bernd Leno
Leno will be 32 in half a decade’s time and there is no reason to suppose he will be anything other than a quality goalkeeper still in his prime years. This season has certainly shown the goalkeeper improving significantly and he has established himself in the upper tier of Premier League shot-stoppers.
He may well have rivals coming through the Arsenal academy with great things expected of both Karl Hein and Arthur Okonkwo but Leno was signed with the long-term in mind. If it does indeed transpire that after nearly seven years the German is still Arsenal’s No.1 then it will be a case of £22million very well spent.
Right-back: Hector Bellerin
Remarkably Bellerin, a fixture in Arsenal’s side when fit for the past five years, has only just turned 24. Injuries mean that he does not have the miles in his legs of a player who has been at the top level for so long; he is still five games short of a double century for the Gunners.
It should also be noted that recent years have seen Bellerin firmly establish himself as a leader at Arsenal, firstly under Arsene Wenger as part of a rarely publicised leadership council. His role has only grown more significant since and if he were still at the club in 2025 he would surely be its captain.
That would not be a bad thing at all. Bellerin is beloved by Arsenal fans and is among the few players in this club who has ever ranked among the best in their position in the Premier League. Stick around until 2025 and he’d even get a testimonial.
Centre-back: William Saliba
The great hope on the horizon for Arsenal’s defence. Saliba is currently out on loan with Saint-Etienne and whilst he has struggled with injuries the games where he has featured have offered sufficient indication that the 18-year-old will prove to be £27million well spent.
Saint-Etienne defender William Saliba gestures during the game against Bordeaux