The decisions Raul Sanllehi and Edu must make over six Arsenal players this summer

This summer Arsenal face falling into the trap that plagued them throughout the 2010s – players running down their contracts.

Aaron Ramsey’s recent departure on a free to Juventus alongside the dealings of Ozil and Alexis Sanchez in January 2018 should hold as stark reminders of what can happen when this is allowed to happen for the Arsenal hierarchy. Not only do they risk losing them for fractions of what they paid but also overcompensating to keep them.

Raul Sanllehi even addressed this issue after Ramsey made way for Turin last summer.

“At the end of the day, the real essence of the problem was that we had reached the last year of the contract,”  Sanllehi told Arsenal’s official YouTube channel in May 2019. “One of our priorities is not to get to the last year of contract and this (Ramsey’s situation) is the reason why. The only way to get to the end of contract is when you’re ready to release that player at the end.

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“If you really want to keep that player you need to renew him before getting to the last year of contract because you’re putting yourself in a very weak position – we cannot get to the last year of the contract and if we cannot get a renewal before that then we may have to sell.”

Six players (Mesut Ozil, Sokratis, Shkodran Mustafi, David Luiz, Bukayo Saka and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang) will reach the final 12 months of their contract as this season ends and looks at the key decisions Arsenal must make to avoid putting themselves in even weaker positions.

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Mesut Ozil

There’s no questioning that the German has become increasingly less productive in the seasons since Arsene Wenger’s departure. With just eight goal involvements in the past two Premier League campaigns (five goals, three assists) his presence on the pitch is being questioned more than ever.

Especially considering how much of a contrast his general play is having compared to just a few years ago.

He has improved under Mikel Arteta – finding better spaces to drive forward with and lay the ball to his teammates – but the lack of productivity in the final third can’t go unnoticed. For instance, he has played the seventh most passes into the final third in the Premier League for Arsenal this year (53). Both Calum Chambers (56) and Ainsley Maitland-Niles are ahead of him (57) despite playing less games.

Ozil’s current contract will make it incredibly hard for Arsenal to shift him this summer, however. As a result, the best decision may be to try to extend his deal with a pay cut. Although the German may not see any logic in this, it’d be the best option for the club to ease out a player who at 31-years-old is coming to the end of his Gunners career one way or another.

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