As will be the case at clubs across the country, the way in which Arsenal deal with players whose contracts are winding down towards their expiration dates will have a great impact on the future of the club.
Currently, the Gunners have six players [Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Bukayo Saka, David Luiz, Mesut Ozil, Shkodran Mustafi and Sokratis] whose deals expire in 2021 and at least half of these players have been key to the way Mikel Arteta has helped the side progress since his arrival.
Ensuring their futures at the club are stable will be of course be in the best interest of Arsenal but the main aspect of negotiations that must be kept in mind is power. This doesn’t just refer to the finances clubs can shove in front of players but clubs being aware of the circumstances they are in and using that to their advantage.
Chelsea handing contract extensions to Olivier Giroud and Willy Caballero stand as the most recent examples of this. Despite allowing players to run their contracts down to within months of their expiration dates usually putting clubs in weaker positions, the Blues were able to come into negotiations from a position of strength.
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When looking at the pair, age was of course a massive factor that helped Chelsea [Giroud is 33-years-old and Caballero is 38] but that alone isn’t what will have aided them. The decision on Cabellero allows Frank Lampard to prioritise Kepa Arrizabalaga for another season as the No.1. goalkeeper and was quite straightforward.
The case of Giroud was more nuanced, yet the Blues were still able to control proceedings. Despite his age and lack of football in the first half of the season, the Frenchman was still able to get interest from Tottenham and Inter Milan in January as an exit looked very close to happening.
Most clubs would have let an ageing striker whose contract expires in the summer go in those circumstances but Chelsea didn’t. Why? Because Lampard saw the value in having Giroud and sitting fourth in the Premier League, they have a great chance of qualifying for the Champions League.
Although Arteta and Raul Sanllehi will be aware of each players’ value to the side, they cannot afford to take the same approach in allowing players’ contracts to be run down to within six months of expiration. The club’s trajectory has improved since the Spaniard took charge in December but they cannot guarantee they will meet the footballing demands of each player, whether that be game time or which European competition they are in.
Aubameyang and Saka will be the club’s top priorities as the two of the most valuable players during the 2019/20 season but that fact that even Sokratis has doubts about seeing out his contract until 2021 underlines the fact that Arsenal’s power in…