Happy Friday folks! Hope you’re planning on having a good’un. I know I am – I’m off to The Emirates for a VIP stadium Tour that The Management bought me for my birthday last year. Yep, it’s a stadium tour guided by none other than Lee Dixon, then a slap up three course meal with booze included for lunch. So I’m planning on having a pretty lovely ol’ time and enjoying a trip to our blessed Cathedral.

And I’m carrying with me good vibes too, because yesterday the news broke that the Bukayo Saka contract is all but secured and there are just a few bits of paperwork that is set to be signed to keep him at the club for the foreseeable future. I think I speak for every Arsenal fan when I say “phew”, followed by “it is about time”. Of course the indications from player and club have been to stress that all parties want the player to stay. Our Starboy has said it, Arteta has said it, the feeling was that it was always just about the agent and the club getting the best deal. And it sounds like that is certainly the case, with a reporting £10million+ contract on the verge of being signed. If it is that, then it represents a massive deal for Saka, for his family, but also a great deal for all parties. £10million-a-season works out at £192,000-a-week (or just over). That’s for a player who is arguably already one of the best in the league. I’m going to pull out some names for you:

  • David De Gea
  • Jadon Sancho
  • Raphael Varane
  • Raheem Sterling
  • Jack Grealish
  • Kalidou Koulibaly
  • N’Golo Kante

All of those players earn north of £290,000-a-week. They are all obviously a lot older than Saka, but with the level that he is showing in the Premier League, you can’t convince me that any of those players are outperforming Saka this season. So to me the deal struck by Arsenal Saka’s agent represents massive value on all sides.

The second part of this equation, however, is the length of the deal. Saka’s agent was smart last time we were all discussing his contract two years ago. If you all recall, that dragged on a bit too but when the deal was eventually done, it was a nice bump for Saka, plus a four year deal. I’d be interested to know if Arsenal have been a little more forceful on the length of the deal this time around. Have they gone for five years, for example? Or a ‘four-plus-one’ deal, in which they can trigger an additional year at a certain point in proceedings. That is what I am very intrigued to know.

Why? well, to avoid what happened just two years ago. Two years ago Saka signed a new deal and I remember even back then saying “great news, but at four years, in two season’s time we’re probably all getting just as nervous again as this happens once more. I know it would only be an additional year in which the same nerves kick in, but a four-plus-one deal gives Arsenal the opportunity to have a little more control and a little more time to start talking to him with regards to a new contract at the halfway point in the contract duration. If Saka signs just a four year deal, however, then the season after next we are in the same situation again worrying about whether he’s going to look elsewhere.

Maybe that’s me unnecessarily doomcasting, I’ll admit, because Saka has shown nothing but love for The Arsenal since he joined the club as a kid. He also comes across as the nicest kid in the world. So perhaps he’ll be a ‘one club man’. But Grealish was a Villa fan and loved the club; didn’t stop him moving to City eventually.

The key differentiator here, of course, is the ability to win trophies and Arsenal’s ambition must continue to match Saka’s. We feel like we’re in a good position now. We might not win the league this season, I still firmly believe City are still favourites, but if you’re in Saka’s position and you love the club, you’ve been there for years, you’re the main man and the club is competing for the biggest domestic competition, then it does seem obvious that you’d want to stick around. The signs are good, but it would be nicer if we got Saka signed down to a nice longer five year deal, is all I’m saying.

But all in all, this is good news we should all be happy about.

Today we’ll get Mikel’s press conference ahead of a really tricky game away to Leicester tomorrow and by then we’ll know how our opponents will be in the Europa League. We’re going to be one of the ‘seeded’ teams, having won our group, but I have to say having looked at the seeded and unseeded teams, it doesn’t feel like that’s an advantage. Our options, given United are a side we can’t play until the quarters, are Juventus, Sporting Lisbon, Shaktar Donetsk, Bayer Leverkusen, Sevilla, Union Berlin or Roma. Some big brand names in that group but with the way we’re playing this season, you’d fancy our chances against any of those opponents. Hopefully United get a rough draw and get knocked out, because they are the one team I worry about. Not because they are super amazing, but more that we always get shafted at Old Trafford, so I’d rather avoid them at all costs. Plus it’s hardly a glamour away tie, is it?

Whatever it is, I kind of fancy getting myself along to one of those Cities for an away day, so let’s see if The Management is keen and maybe I can coax her out for a long weekend? I’ll start to work on that as soon as I know where the game is going to be played and when.

Other than that I think I’ll bring a halt to today’s proceedings. I have a stadium tour to go and enjoy.

Catch you wonderful people tomorrow.