Arsene Wenger has claimed that having players in the final year of their contract is an “ideal situation.”
Wenger could put a positive spin on most things, but his latest attempts to rationalise the current contract situation of several players came across as a little desperate.
It’s been an unusual summer for the Gunners with way too many players entering the final year of their contract. Mathieu Debuchy, Kieran Gibbs, Jack Wilshere, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez all have 12 months remaining on their deals and are all embroiled in transfer sagas.
Wenger, though, thinks that this is a good thing. “It is not an issue, I think it’s an ideal situation,” he said, reports the Daily Mail. “Why? Because everyone has to perform. You perform until the last day of your contract.
“Do you think they sit in the dressing room and think, ‘I have one year to go, I will not play well today’? Where does that come from? Even if they run down their contracts, it doesn’t matter. It looks normal to me.”
There is a tangible benefit to players playing for a new deal. Theo Walcott famously had his best season for the club while trying to convince them to pay him £110,000 per week. However, the conceit only works if the player has something to prove and is actually a first-team regular.
By this point, the likes of Debuchy and Gibbs are too far off a starting place to really be playing for a new contract. Wilshere is now at this point in his career as well. These players will sooner leave Arsenal than sign a new contract.
Ozil and Alexis, meanwhile, have nothing to prove and a tremendous amount of leverage. Alexis especially is in a very strong position where he can reject Arsenal’s offer and still end up a top club.
Oxlade-Chamberlain is the only one playing with something to prove, but even he could still end up at Liverpool, Chelsea or Manchester City. Letting his Arsenal contract expire isn’t the worst thing in the world for him.
Ultimately, Arsenal have mismanaged this situation. To spin it into something that was intentional is escaping that reality and will come back to bite them when the club are made to answer for the big-name departures next summer.