There has been talk recently that will come as music to Arsenal fans ears. Two of their star performers this year – Özil and Sanchez – are likely to sign new contracts. The message it sends out is clear, Arsenal are not a selling club. They’re here to challenge for trophies and get out of the cycle of flogging their top stars like Nasri, Adeybyour, Clichy, Fabregas, Song, Toure, Sagna, Hleb (OK, forget about Hleb!)
I wrote in the summer that Arsenal needed to sign new players, but re-signing their current stars surely has to be top priority.
Sanchez seems to enjoy being the main man at Arsenal. And he really is. Since coming from Barcelona he’s been the first name on the team sheet for Wenger. Many would say Arsenals stand out performer. His goals in the FA Cup final and against Man Utd earlier this year show how he’s such a dangerous threat in front of goal.
It’s not just his goal threat that endears Arsenal fans to Sanchez. The Chilean seems to have an endless work-rate. Coming from Barcelona he is used to pressing high up the pitch. The only difference at Arsenal is that the rest of his team rarely press high with him. His boundless energy does, however, almost seem to shame his team mates into joining in with the hard work.
Sanchez is believed to currently be on around £130,000 a week. Quite low when you consider what Wayne Rooney is being paid! I’d be very surprised if Sanchez isn’t made Arsenals highest paid star. But even if he is there are plenty of other clubs that will be willing to beat whatever Arsenal are able to offer.
Sometimes criticised for being lazy (often unfairly) the World Cup winner has started to show his true class this season. So far he has provided 9 assists from just 13 appearances making him the leading goal creator in the league. Arsenal have a wealth of options in the number 10 role, but with stats like that Ozil is starting to really stake his claim. In contrast he can be ineffective on the wing. Playing centrally he looks like a much scarier prospect. After all, that was his position at Real Madrid. Özil also now seems to have adjusted to the pace and physicality of the Premier league, enabling him to dictate games like we saw against Swansea.
The clubs top earner at £140,000 it is hard to see Özil’s wage not increasing dramatically.
Trophies over spending power
What will get Sanchez and Özil to sign new contracts?
One answer is undoubtedly money. Arsenal need to continue to increase the wages of their biggest stars. But what will really convince top players to stay put is the team’s performances. Winning the FA Cup 2 years in a row is a good start. And the team finally look to be genuine title contenders. But the defeat at Bayern Munich shows just how far of the pace this current Arsenal team still are from the top clubs in Europe.
In order to keep hold of the top stars Arsenal still need to improve on the pitch.