The window keeps rolling on and Arsenal seem intent on letting Mesut Özil and Alexis Sánchez run down their contracts. All summer Arsène Wenger has been adamant that the pair will not leave, despite Sánchez looking intent on linking up with Pep Guardiola again, or so it seems.
During last month’s pre-season tour Mesut Özil assured fans that he was committed to the club and would sign a new deal when he returned to London. That was a month ago and nothing has been signed. As of yet, it’s not clear whether this is down to Özil’s unwillingness to commit or Arsenal’s infamous hesitancy with negotiations.
Either way Arsenal need to make a decision. Contract talks haunted the club last season and saw Özil’s form drop greatly. Sánchez stepped up his game but, during Arsenal’s toughest period, he went missing. Did media pressure play a part in their dip in form? And did all the talk of them leaving hinder their performances and affect team morale?
If that was the case last year, how will the team cope in the new season knowing that the pair are eyeing moves elsewhere? Will they be fully committed, give that extra 10% and risk an injury? Could they be made scapegoats because they don’t want to be there?
On the flip side of this, Wenger has claimed players are hungrier as they near the end of their contracts. That was certainly the case with Flamini, Nasri and RVP. All three had their best seasons for the club as their contracts drew to a close. But look at the after effect for Arsenal.
When these players left, it took Arsenal a number of years to replace and rebuild. This time round, Arsenal could potentially lose their two best players for nothing. If Wenger does give in and sells them this summer, he’ll have around £120m to find replacements. However, if he loses them for nothing, next summer’s budget will be spent solely on replacing the pair, meaning any other additions will likely be put on hold.
If Arsène Wenger gets his way, it’s unclear how Arsenal can possibly move forward with this financial burden. The club already struggle to compete with the Manchester clubs financially and this blow would see them move further backwards. Even if the extremely unlikely happens and Arsenal win the Premier League, the financial hit to the club would not justify the short term success.
That said, the pair haven’t left yet. They still have 12 months on their contracts. That gives the club time to extend their deals and this is something Arsène Wenger remains confident of doing. Özil seems the more likely and, if they can extend his deal, the loss of Alexis wouldn’t be quite so bad.
Unfortunately for Arsenal, the pair are crucial to any success and they need replacing. Their sale would not be down to quality. Quite the opposite – their sale would be down to securing the quality of this squad for the next few seasons by ensuring Arsenal have the funds to compete. Sentiment aside, selling Özil and Sánchez is the best solution for Arsenal Football Club.