Arsene Wenger’s Arsenal was picked apart and robbed of their best players but Mikel Arteta has learned from those mistakes… the Gunners are smartly tying down their stars with William Saliba and Martin Odegaard expected to follow Bukayo Saka
- Bukayo Saka has become the latest Arsenal player to commit to a new contract
- Mikel Arteta is determined to keep core of his exciting young team together
- Other clubs swooping for Arsenal’s best players left Arsene Wenger frustrated
Arsenal must keep moving forwards or risk what has been a terrific campaign becoming a flash in the pan.
Manchester City, who overhauled them to win another Premier League title, will not be any weaker next season.
Manchester United are potentially a world class striker away from challenging, while cash-rich Newcastle’s trajectory is only upwards. Chelsea and Liverpool surely won’t be as bad again.
So Mikel Arteta can’t afford to stand still, even though the Gunners have produced some of their best football in two decades in recent months.
Summer moves for the likes of Declan Rice, Ilkay Gundogan or Moises Caicedo will maintain Arsenal’s momentum, but just as important will be the current stars they tie down to new contracts.
Bukayo Saka poses alongside Arsenal’s sporting director Edu (left) and manager Mikel Arteta (right) after signing a £300,000-a-week deal through until 2027
Saka (top) and Gabriel Martinelli (bottom) have already committed following a positive season for the Gunners – with talks underway to secure William Saliba’s (left) future
Manager Mikel Arteta will be determined this campaign isn’t just a flash in the pan for Arsenal
Arsenal come into these negotiations from a position of strength. They boast a vibrant young team with immense potential and now battle-hardened from the experience of their title fight against City.
Next season will see Champions League football at the Emirates for the first time since 2016-17. What’s not to like?
Bukayo Saka is the latest to sniff the optimism in the air and commit to Arsenal. Fair enough, it is the 21-year-old England star’s boyhood club, but he wouldn’t have been short of interest.
It was confirmed on Tuesday that Saka has penned a £300,000-a-week deal to remain in Arsenal red until 2027. ‘It’s a beautiful club and I’m just so happy,’ Saka said.
His fresh deal comes after goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale agreed a new four-year contract last week and three months after Brazilian forward Gabriel Martinelli committed until 2027.
His namesake in defence, Gabriel Magalhaes, also signed a new contract through until 2027 back in October last year.
Talks are underway with defender William Saliba, whose injury absence cost them so dearly during the title run-in, given he has only one more year to run on his contract.
Discussions with captain Martin Odegaard, another star performer this season, are also expected.
Goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale agreed a new four-year contract with the Gunners last week
Captain Martin Odegaard is another Arsenal are keen to tie down to a new contract
Arsenal ultimately fell short in the title race to Man City – but it’s still been a successful season
So Arteta is understandably keen to keep the core of his side together and then strengthen it with acquisitions this summer.
The players involved must also be motivated to see how their exciting side fares in the Champions League.
There will be a desire to challenge themselves against the best and Arsenal’s restored presence among Europe’s elite enables them to offer better financial terms.
The renewals are also a sign that Arsenal have learned some lessons from Arsene Wenger’s time.
The Frenchman was often left frustrated that his hard work in assembling competitive teams was undermined by a wealthier rival swooping for his best players, who perhaps weren’t tied down to long-term deals.
In the 2010-11 season, for instance, saw an emerging Arsenal side finish fourth but they weren’t very far behind Chelsea or Manchester City.
Robin van Persie scored 22 times in all competitions, Cesc Fabregas was pulling strings in midfield and they had the likes of Samir Nasri, Jack Wilshere and Alex Song.
Arsene Wenger was left to rue Arsenal not trying down key players a decade ago – with Robin van Persie among those who moved on (to Manchester United in the Dutchman’s case)
Samir Nasri in action against his old club Arsenal during his first season with Manchester City
Nasri moved from Arsenal to cash-rich Manchester City in 2011, one of several key players lost to Arsene Wenger as he tried to build another competitive team
But the landscape of English football was changing and the summer of 2011 saw Man City, flush with Abu Dhabi cash, buy both Nasri and Gael Clichy.
What’s more, Fabregas moved to Barcelona, who’d just won another Champions League and were Europe’s most attractive team under Pep Guardiola.
The following season, Wenger’s Arsenal finished third in the Premier League, but a distant third to the two Manchester clubs as City won their first title on goal difference.
Instead of working to try and bridge that gap, they sold 37-goal Van Persie, who was desperate to win a league title for his scoring efforts, to United. Barcelona came knocking again, this time for Song.
Soon Arsenal were stuck in reverse and Wenger expressed his irritation at the lost opportunity.
‘You could feel the potential was there and I thought ‘Ok, let’s do this together,’ he said in December 2012.
Cesc Fabregas was another to depart Arsenal, signing for European champions Barcelona
Alex Song’s departure to Barcelona in 2012 was another that left Wenger feeling frustrated
‘Then the team split up, sometimes after five or six years of work. It is frustrating. You have to start all over again.
‘We have lost recent players earlier in their careers – to lose Van Persie, Fabregas, Nasri and Song in just two years, it is a massive amount of potential.’
With the possible exception of 2015-16, Arsenal have only really got back up to speed when it comes to genuinely competing for the Premier League title.
But their current efforts to tie down as many key players as possible suggests Arteta won’t be left rueing missed opportunities as Wenger was during the final phase of his long spell as manager.
While rivals may have covetous eyes on many of Arsenal’s top performers, it does send a clear message they won’t be picked apart so soon.
The big question now is whether that talented core are tough enough to go toe-to-toe with City once again next season.
Source: Read Full Article