Could Uncertainty Over Wenger’s Future Cost Arsenal Alexis Sanchez & Mesut Ozil?
Right now, Arsenal fans are so caught up in getting their daily dose of transfer rumours that they may have forgotten about two of the most important deals the club could pull off this summer. Amid the clamour for new signings, it shouldn’t be forgotten that Arsenal must also try and secure the futures of their current stars. Tying down Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez to new contracts could prove to be just as important as any new acquisition.
Alexis and Ozil are both two years from the expiry of their current deals. Over the past 12 months, there have been several stories indicating that an agreement could be imminent, but no official news has been forthcoming. The lack of progress has now become a little distressing.
Speaking in April, an outwardly relaxed Arsene Wenger told Sky Sports:
“These two players have two years to go on their contracts at the end of the season. So that is why we are not in a hurry. The players are very keen to stay and we are talking.”
The problem for Arsenal fans is that they’ve been burnt by this kind of situation before. Wenger talks as if two years is a long time, but realistically he must know that this is the point at which clubs begin to become vulnerable to a player’s whims.
If a player gets to within 12 months of the end of his contract, the club is invariably forced to accept a reduced fee—as has been the case with Cesc Fabregas, Samir Nasri and Robin van Persie in the recent past. Within a matter of months, Alexis and Ozil could have Arsenal over a barrel. If they don’t sign up soon, Arsenal could be forced to sell to avoid missing out on massive transfer fees.
Perhaps the uncertainty surrounding several of Arsenal’s stars is related to the doubts over the manager’s own future. Wenger has just 12 months left on his current deal, and it’s possible that players are hesitant to commit to a club where it’s unclear who’ll be in charge in just a year’s time. Maybe the players are reluctant to dedicate themselves to the cause without knowing if Wenger will be at the helm.
This summer could have a major influence on their decision. Much like the Arsenal supporters, they may also be waiting to see how the club’s transfer activity plays about between now and the August deadline. Arsenal’s need for a top-class forward has been clear for years, and they need to deliver a striker that serves as a statement of intent ahead of the new campaign. Ozil and Alexis are top-class players who could command a place with almost any team in the world—they’ll want to be assured that Wenger and the board match their ambition. Transfer activity is the obvious way to do that.
Arsenal must prove to their key players that they’re prepared to do what it takes to deliver success to the club. In the past two years, Alexis and Ozil have won two Copa America titles and a World Cup. Having secured their international legacy, they’ll be determined to experience that kind of success at club level too. The onus is now on Wenger and the board to do everything within their power to convince them they can do that at the Emirates Stadium.