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Arsenal have moved to prevent another of their most experienced players leaving on a free transfer by triggering a clause in Nacho Monreal’s contract. The Spain international’s current deal is set to expire in the summer and he would have been free to talk to European clubs this month. Monreal joined Arsenal almost six years ago exactly and has established himself as the club’s undisputed first choice left back and has regularly filled in at centre-back with both Arsene Wenger and Unai Emery switching between four and five-man defensive systems.
No such clause was present in Aaron Ramsey’s contract which has allowed the 28-year-old to sign a pre-contract agreement with Juventus and he is now almost certain to join the Serie A champions without Arsenal receiving a fee for an established international footballer with the peak years of his career still ahead of him. Monreal, 32, has made 15 appearances this season but has missed the last four matches since he hobbled off in the first half of the recent 4-1 win over Burnley. Arsenal, meanwhile, have warned Championship clubs that they are unwilling to sanction loan moves for Joe Willock and Eddie Nketiah over the course of the January window. The youngsters have made a positive impression during the cup competitions this season, with Willock adding to his growing reputation against Blackpool in last weekend’s FA Cup third round win with two goals. Emery’s squad has been stretched to breaking point in recent weeks and is reluctant to sanction more departures unless he is able to bring in senior replacements.