Friday, 9 December 2016

Arsenal: Show Them The Money

With things going so well for Arsenal at the moment it was only a matter of time before someone threw a spanner in the works. The absence of Santi Cazorla for the next few months is what I thought might be their biggest problem, but I just might have been wrong on that count. It looks like Granit Xhaka will get more time with Cazorla out and he might not be the same type of player, but the signs so far are the team are functioning pretty well with him in it.

However, a bigger problem might just have reared it's ugly head with the press full of stories of other clubs making a move for one or both of our star performers. Both Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil are right up there among the very best players in the Premier League and almost any team in the world would be happy to see them at their club. They both have contracts until the end of next season and there's a real urgency for the club to tie them down to new deals as soon as possible.

It's impossible to estimate how much it would cost to replace both of those players in the current market, but it's a sum Arsenal would most definitely shy away from paying. Added to that there would be the problem of finding players of their calibre available and the wages players at that level would expect. The cost of letting either or both of them leave the club would be huge and it would put the club back to where it was a few years ago.

The move to the Emirates Stadium meant Arsenal had to penny pinch for far too long and we have been told that era is now firmly behind us. If the club are going to make us fans believe that then the extension of both of their contracts is surely the best way of doing so. As good as some of our other players are those two are superstars of the game and the envy of every other Premier League club.

The money available to United, City and Chelsea means they can pay what they like for any player and none of us believe "financial fair play" will ever do anything about it. Arsenal captured both players as their stars were waining and they have flourished at the club to the extent that they are both hot properties again. If we are going to prove we are true contenders and can mix it with the best we have to keep them both at the club.

I have no doubt their wages will have to increase by an amount that would make us average Joes rich beyond our dreams, but if that's what it takes I don't see what choice the club has. Arsene Wenger's contract is up at the end of this season and failure to keep those two players at the club would surely mean the end of his reign. It would be impossible to go back to the role of also-rans and look to extend his contract while telling us he is building for the future. For me that future is now and we have built towards it for far too long and it's time all of that building came to fruition.

I'm not saying we are going to win the league or the Champions League, but we have our best realistic chances of doing so in a very long time with the current squad. Sure it could do with an addition or two and lack of the best squad didn't mean we didn't challenge in other seasons in that time, but we now have the squad to sustain a challenge and that could make the difference. There's still plenty to be ironed out in the team, but I haven't seen hope or belief like this in a long time.

Failure to extend both of their contracts would ruin all of that and knock us back so far it could be difficult to recover from. How do you sell the club to prospective new players when you have let those two players leave and they will have to be sold next summer if they don't extend their contracts. Anyone who argues that we should sell them at the height of their value and that there would be virtually no resale value for them at the end of their next contract needs to think about what they are saying. I know playing for Arsenal has put them where they are now, but we cannot expect them to demand less than players of a similar value.

It's going to be a nervy time for us fans as we await news on both of their contracts and the sooner the better it's sorted. If the club can tie them down quickly we can get back to the far more important business of playing football and trying to win trophies. We're second in the league, through to the last 16 of the Champions League as a seeded team and the FA Cup starts for us in a few weeks. They are three trophies we need to fight to the bitter end to try to win and what better way than by tying two players who are right up there with the very best in the league down to new contracts even if we have to break our "wage structure". It's been broken before and it will probably be broken again and in my opinion it's worth breaking for Alexis and Ozil.

That's it for today.

See you tomorrow.

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