“He needs to see the other players. They can’t rely on Aubameyang every week. It’s a massive three months for Arteta to see who’s going to be there for him and who’s not.”
As well as overseeing the exits of players like Mesut Ozil, Sokratis and Shkrodan Mustafi in the January transfer window, Arteta allowed Joe Willock, Ainsley Maitland-Niles and William Saliba to leave on loan.
Merson believes the manager has shown he does not see those players having a future at the Emirates – and says he must now look ahead to a top-four challenge next term.
“He’s allowed a couple of players to go out on loan and I personally think in doing that, he doesn’t see them at Arsenal next season,” said the former England international.
“Arsenal don’t need to be finishing in the top seven. They don’t need to be playing Thursday night football next season.
“They need to have a plan for next season, and the plan has to be that the players who aren’t there now can’t be part of those plans.”