Morning all and welcome to a brand new Thursday. It’s a Thursday in which contracts are the hot topic and top of the agenda and that’s not least because of the tale of two contract undertones that sit behind the two big stories emanating from yesterday:
- Calum Chambers has signed a new deal
- Özil’ agent says talks with Arsenal are progressing well
To the first point here. Personally I think this is a great deal for Arsenal. I have a soft spot for Chambers and have always said that I think he is a very good defender, he just needs a run of games to prove it, which I think he got at Middlesbrough and I think we would see a much different centre half to the one that left us if we had to play him for six games in a row now.
Let’s not forget that he was preferred to Rob Holding in the under-21s this summer just gone. We all know Holding will develop in to a great centre half and I’m excited to see him grow in the coming years, but where we are at the moment we have one brilliant young talent when we really should have more.
That’s where Chambers comes in. Nacho is 31 and will be 32 in February next year. Koscielny turned 32 in September and his legs are starting to show signs of failing him; we already know that he needs regular treatment on his Achilles. Big Per retires next summer and Mustafi wanted out this summer just gone by. The only player in the central defensive positions that seemingly wasn’t kicking up a fuss was Gabriel and he was shipped out in August. So tying Chambers down to a long term deal makes perfect sense.
But in another way it really doesn’t. I say that because it feels at the moment as if Arsène is reluctant to trust him. I know he’s injured right now and that’s why he isn’t playing, but it’s been common knowledge that Arsène was happy to let him go in the summer but changed his mind. So what has happened since then? Why has Wenger done such a massive U-turn on a player that he isn’t convinced about.
Perhaps – as some friends of mine have speculated – this is the first step of Arsenal preparing for life after Wenger. Perhaps the club have moved to tie down Chambers because they know that it is the next manager who should decide his fate, not the man who feasibly won’t be in charge in August 2019.
Or perhaps it’s the club securing an asset from going on the cheap next summer with another year knocked off his contract? That wouldn’t surprise me and certainly given the situation we’re facing next summer with the exodus of key players this might be a move to get rid of the possibility of any more difficult contract situations.
Or maybe this new lawyer that has come in is actually a little more proactive than Dicky and we’re already seeing the fruits of his labour?
Whatever it is, I just hope we can see Chambers grow in to a first team player at Arsenal, because I think he has the potential to be good enough.
As for the other contract story from yesterday, that Mesut’s agent has told the press that contract talks are moving in the right direction with Arsenal. Sounds positive, right?
Maybe. What he also says – which I think is telling – is that Mesut wants to play at least another two to three years in the Premier League. Not specifically for Arsenal, but the Premier League, and I think the good doctor who is Özil’s agent chose his words very carefully there.
The real undertone behind this message is clear:
“We’re talking to Arsenal, but if they don’t cough up, we know that one of the other Big 6 is definitely interested”
Özil has learned well from his friend Flamini. The first time the Frenchman left Arsenal he spent the whole season saying the right things, talking about a new deal at the club, then after January it all went a bit quiet until about April time I recall, when it was announced he’d signed a pre-contract agreement with AC Milan.
This Özil situation feels remarkably similar to me. It feels like Özil’s PR team have played the perfect game up until this point and now they’ve brought the agent in to keep the fans on side. It all feels rather textbook but if I’m honest, I still remain convinced that he’s off and all this statement did was confirm that it’ll be to another club in our league.
If that happens and it happens with Alexis too, then you’d have to say what the club were praised for in the summer of standing firm, now feels like a real dumbass move. Let’s just hope they have some succession planning in place.
That’s yer lot for today. It’s off to work I go.