Arsenal have always had an issue with maintaining their quality players and in convincing them to extend their contracts. It is very rare for a season or two to go by without any news of a tiff related to contracts at the Emirates Stadium.
For example, Ashley Cole, Mathieu Flamini, Kolo Toure, Samir Nasri and Robin Van Persie all had some issue with the club when it came to renewing contracts, and ultimately they all ended up shifting camp. Whether or not the move turned out to be good for them is a whole other topic, but the fact is that they ended up leaving.
In fact, much of Arsenal’s struggles in previous seasons could be attributed to this exodus of their best players which invariably comes back to haunt them.
Much of this can be blamed upon the strict wage structure that is followed by Arsenal. In a world where everybody is constantly vying to increase their earnings, it does become difficult to not want something more. We are all human, after all.
However, this pattern continued at Arsenal for a while, but then came in Theo Walcott.
At that point, Walcott was considered one of Arsenal’s best. After Van Persie’s departure, Walcott had demanded a new contract. Perhaps the Walcott timed that move perfectly, because the Gunners could not afford to lose another star player right after Van Persie, and hence, Walcott was given a new contract with a club record of £100,000 a week.
Ever since then, Arsenal seems to have loosened the grip on their purse strings. The purchase of high-profile players like Mesut Ozil from Real Madrid and Alexis Sanchez from Barcelona stressed further upon the fact. And that has worked out brilliantly for Arsenal.
They sit at a comfortable spot among the top four, and they were unbeaten until recently when they suffered a defeat at the hands of Everton.
However, with 18 months left on both their contracts, Ozil and Sanchez (just like the others before them) want renewed contracts with renegotiated incomes. Arsenal’s success this season can be largely attributed to these two, and there are already reports of them getting offers from other clubs.
If things were to go on par with tradition, then the team and its fans would be in for a rather nasty shock. Also, after a long time, the Gunners have a strong chance at title contention, and the possible exit of their two star players can bring about a gloom among the squad. And this is when they need to be as motivated as they can.
However, this does not come as an excuse for their recent loss against Everton at Goodison Park. That can be blamed upon the nonchalance of the Gunners players, poor defence and lack of good attack.
Based on reports, the club is currently undergoing talks with the duo. Point to be noted is that even earlier in the cases of Samir Nasri and Flamini, the club maintained all was well until they left for Manchester City and AC Milan respectively.
The problem is that nobody will ever know what is actually going on behind the closed doors of the club. Arsenal might be able to convince the duo to stay, but as long as there is an air of ambiguity in the matter, people will continue speculating.
There should not be any issues in maintaining Sanchez and Ozil because Arsenal have managed to pay off their loan for the construction of the Emirates Stadium. Considering that’s out of the way, Arsenal should be able to accommodate the needs of players of such importance to the club.
Wenger will also need to do well to prove his own calibre, and for that, the team needs to show their strength on and off the field. Arsenal’s future looks bright with their current form, but given the precarious timing, the club really cannot afford to lose two top players and go through a re-shuffle yet again.
This a rather dicey situation for the club, to say the least. Their struggles in the last couple of seasons have taught them a thing or two, and they are progressing fast now. Holding on to Ozil and Sanchez would be ideal for the Gunners. Meanwhile, letting them go could bring the club back to square one, and that would just undo all their hard work so far.