Arsenal head of football Raul Sanllehi recently took to the club’s official Youtube channel alongside managing director Vinai Venkatesham to speak directly with fans. While much was simply corporate rhetoric, one issue was spoken of directly; that of the two-year contract policy.
Arsenal’s Two-Year Contract Policy Must be Implemented
The Ideal Situation
With the last regime dropping the ball so often when it comes to contracts, Sanllehi made sure to touch on the issue in his message to fans,
“We need to make sure we are really disciplined. A good example of that is senior players that aren’t towards the end of their careers. We need to make sure that those players, when they’ve got two years left on their contract, we’re making the difficult decisions.
“We’re either renewing those players’ contracts, or we’re selling those players. So we’re going to have to be brave with those decisions along the way, because we can’t be in a situation where we are allowing players to walk out the door for free unless they are coming towards the end of their career.”
So, in other words, players like Aaron Ramsey will not be allowed to run down their contracts. However, there are a number of high-profile first-team players with two years currently left on their deals.
Those players are Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Mesut Ozil, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Sokratis Papastathopoulos and Shkodran Mustafi. There has not yet been any official communication to the fans about what the club plans to do with these five players this summer.
However, one thing is for sure; Arsenal must implement their two-year contract plan now. There are two reasons. First, these five are first-team regulars and, therefore, are among the most valuable assets that the club has. Yes, it is cold-hearted to think of people in such terms, but such is modern football.
These five players will never be as valuable to Arsenal, or any other club for that matter, as they are currently. Allowing them to sit on rapidly-expiring contracts, much like Ramsey did, would simply force the club to lose money.
The second reason is to lay down a marker. Although it has been more than one year since Arsene Wenger resigned, Arsenal are still in transition. Their executive structure is still missing a technical director, the squad is largely still stocked by Wenger players and many important people are still fairly new to the club.
To find future success, they will need to show how others can expect them to behave. That means both other clubs who must not think that Arsenal are a club that can be bullied in the market as well as current players who must not think that they can simply hold the club to ransom.
Of course, it will be a messy situation to sort. As Sanllehi himself said, the executives must make the difficult decisions. However, just how should the club proceed and just who should get a new contract and who should be moved along?
The first name is Aubameyang. The Gabon striker is the club’s record signing and just won the Premier League golden boot. He is also one half of the most potent partnership at the club alongside Alexandre Lacazette.
Therefore, it would be foolish to allow Aubameyang to leave the club this summer, perhaps even if a mega-offer is received.
Due to injuries and inconsistency with the other defenders, the no-nonsense Greek centre-back was Arsenal’s best player at the back for the majority of the season. He may be 31, but we have seen from Laurent Koscielny and Nacho Monreal this season that defenders hold their form decently with age.
Plus, there will be at least one other centre-half that will leave the club this summer. Therefore, Sokratis should also get a short extension to his Arsenal contract.
It is safe to say that Arsenal paid too much for Mustafi. Three years ago he cost the Gunners £35 million and has never really looked worth the fee. Inconsistent form and rash decision making means that Mustafi needs to go.
While the club will not receive a huge transfer fee for the player, making room for Konstantinos Mavropanos and other young defenders makes it worthwhile to find a new home for Mustafi.
Ozil is more than capable of moments of magic. That is more than reflected in his massive wages. However, it is not mirrored in his performances on the pitch. Take the Europa League final for example. Ozil was tidy on the ball and didn’t make any real mistakes. However, he didn’t really take the match by the scruff of the neck either.
He is certainly a good player but his wages dictate that a move away would benefit the club. However, his paycheque also dictates that a move away is almost impossible. It’s a tough situation but if a move away can be arranged, it would be worthwhile to free up the £36.4 million still owed to the midfielder over the next two years.
Mkhitaryan also got mixed results on the pitch this season. Plus, he is a good fit as an attacking midfielder, same as Ozil. Also like Ozil, he is a talented yet overpaid player. Finally, just like Ozil, Mkhitaryan has two years left on his deal.
Should the club find some way of shedding Ozil’s contract, they have a slightly less talented and enigmatic version of the player who is on less money already at the club. This almost sounds too perfect.
Then again, with Ozil being so difficult to move, allowing Mkhitaryan to seek pastures new may be easier. Either way, it would make sense to move at least one of their contracts.
Last Word on Arsenal’s Two-Year Contract Policy
Sanllehi is right in stating that a football club should have such a policy. It safeguards the club’s interests in the long-term and protects the value of its assets.
However, the two-year contract policy will also force tough decision to be made early. Fans will see this summer just how much nerve this new-look Arsenal really have.
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