There is one question that lies at the heart of Arsenal’s transfer activity so far this summer; why have they let so many of their key players run down their contracts?
Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Özil, Aaron Ramsey, Alex Oxlade–Chamberlain, Jack Wilshere, Santi Cazorla, Wojciech Szczesny, Kieran Gibbs, Joel Campbell and Carl Jenkinson all have one year left on their contracts.
The first four started last season’s FA Cup final, the next four would have been at least in contention for that game if they were available, and the last two were youngsters who once had a promising future.
So out of 10 players, two could be considered to be players that don’t have much value to the club. But the other eight are players that Arsenal consider, or at least considered, to be important to the future of the club.
So why has it Arsenal found itself in such an unfavourable position?
If we were still being influenced by the financial restrictions that building the Emirates Stadium imposed on us between 2007 and 2013, then it would be far more understandable.
Key players were not interested in signing a long–term deal for a club that had to consistently sell a valuable player every year in order to keep up on the mortgage payments. There were just too many outside factors for Arsenal to ignore, it was impossible to say ‘Stay here, we’re building something special,’ when they were removing the best building block every year and their rivals were building far more ambitious, at least in monetary terms, projects.
But in 2016, what outside factors were there that Arsenal had to fight against?
They were second in the league, Champions League football had been attained again, and the financial restrictions that had plagued them for seven years were now gone.
What was stopping them from going to their best players and saying ‘Stay here, we’re building something special’?
It just doesn’t make sense that a club that has been haunted over the last few years by the sight of key player after key player after key player leaving the club for less than their market value because of the fact that they had one year left to run on their contract, would just sleepwalk their way into a situation that left half their best starting XI and many other valuable players in the same situation.
But here we are, in that same situation.
Yet if it’s reasonable to suggest that negligence isn’t at fault here, then the only other plausible explanation is that Arsenal have deliberately put themselves in this position, that this was the plan all along.
That seems absurd, right?
That Arsenal would purposely leave themselves so vulnerable to having their best players leave?
Why would anyone do that?
There is an answer to this, and I don’t like it. But it’s the only way I can imagine this making some sort of sense to those who are in control of matters like this at Arsenal, i.e Arsene Wenger.
So here is my theory…