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Arsenal's contract crisis extends far beyond the obvious

Saturday 26th August 2017
Eight Gunners' deals expire next summer. Nine the following. Arsene Wenger's blindness to the Arsenal contract crisis is concerning.

Negligence and complacency when it comes to securing the long-term futures of any club's most established players should be highlighted, exposed, and critiqued. While media attention may focus on more obvious candidates at the Emirates, players and greedy agents for instance, Arsene Wenger's dismissive attitude towards the issue is of far greater import.

 

Many of Arsenal's most high-profile, prominent, and ultimately damaging departures over the past decade have been driven by the manager's negligence and ignorance towards a contract's importance. From Samir Nasri, Bacary Sagna and Emmanuel Adebayor all the way through to Robin van Persie, whose exit was perhaps more hurtful than Cesc Fabregas', Arsenal have consistently had to replace outgoing stars due to Wenger's complacency.
It is a lesson that has seemingly not been learned. Much of the narrative this summer has again centered on possible departures.

Wenger has stated the squad is "heavy," admitting sales are needed to fine-tune and hone his squad. However, the key issue is not so much to make room. The ability to master the transfer window depends on being able to choose the right players to sell. Before Chelsea won the league last season, Antonio Conte sold players like Oscar and Juan Cuadrado, as well as replacing key contributors like Branislav Ivanovic. Unfortunately for Arsenal, their manager's inaction has placed them in a position where they cannot choose.

The Gunners currently have eight players whose contracts expire next summer: Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Ozil, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Jack Wilshere, Santi Cazorla, Kieran Gibbs, Joel Campbell, Matt Macey. Additionally, there are nine players in the current squad whose contracts expire in two summers' time (2019): Aaron Ramsey, Olivier Giroud, Theo Walcott, Danny Welbeck, Nacho Monreal, David Ospina, Petr Cech, Mathieu Debuchy, Chuba Akpom. Media attention focuses on the obviously worrying candidates: Sanchez, Ozil, Chamberlain. Yet, there is a deeper-rooted issue to be addressed.
Consistently, Arsenal are allowing contracts to enter the final two years. While Wenger may profess that shorter contracts help as a motivational tool, and there may be an element of truth to this viewpoint, what he fails to concede is that the compromise of security vs motivation is one worth taking. What is the point in having motivated players if they are motivated to leave?

This leaves Wenger in an extremely difficult position. He wants to sell players but has no power over which will go. If a player whose contract is soon to expire wants to leave, such is the strength of their position, they will be able to force a move simply by threatening to play out their deal, then leave on a free. As Ozil and Sanchez do this, Wenger's hands are tied regarding lesser talents who may be needed if he cannot ultimately convince the two principals to extend. Then, if either (and the rest) do renew, you can be sure that it will be for a price over the odds.

Wenger's policy is crippling his ability to maintain the squad. Uncertainty is ruling the roost and the Frenchman is the culprit behind the Arsenal contract crisis.
Andrew Dowdeswell

A sport obsessed 20 something who just really wants Arsenal to finally win the league. Please Wenger, what the hell happened to you?!


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