‘Tis the season to be……
….Worried about every single transfer rumour that gets banded about, apparently, and I am by no means an exception it seems.
For yesterday in the morning – after I’d written my daily musings on here first thing, a story emerged about how Arsenal could be resigned to losing Saliba this summer after it emerged that he STILL hasn’t signed a new deal. Apparently, according to this particular red top tabloid, Arsenal have been left ‘staggered’ by Saliba’s camps wage demands.
So, there’s nothing new then, right? I mean, we’re not going to get a ‘Arsenal are delighted with Saliba’s teams very low and completely reasonable wage demands’ headline, are we?
And this is where I am at today after being a little bit nervous yesterday. Firstly, the rumours are that Arsenal offered £120k-per-week and #TeamSaliba said ‘nah’. Let’s remind ourselves that squad player Nketiah is on £100k-per-week. So if he’s on that, why would Saliba’s people just accept that deal? They wouldn’t. They know he’s just had a stormer of a season. When he came out of the team we looked weaker at the back and as a key connector with that right hand pod of players that we have, he was a guy who was helping to bring the best out of some of the key players in our team on the right hand side through his progressive passing from deep. We all see it, Arsenal will know it, so you can bet your bottom dollar that Saliba’s camp know it too. He’s one of the top names on the teamsheet and so he probably needs to be paid accordingly what he’s worth.
The other thing about this story breaking yesterday is that I feel like there’s an element of ‘get in there early’ from this particular red top. The season has barely finished and we’re going to get a summer of stories like this. If you go big on that kind of story in mid July, is it going to have the same impact as one that is hitting just as the season has finished? I’d wager not. We get exposed to so much transfer and contract tittle-tattle that by the time you get to July most of us have become desensitised. I would be willing to bet that if this exact same story were to run on 15th July, it would just get lost amongst all the other noise and pick up nowhere near any of the coverage that this one particular article picked up yesterday on social media. It got the clicks, it got the hits, the journo in question did his job and a large chunk of us were suitably worried, nervous and discussing the article amongst ourselves yesterday.
Now, that doesn’t mean that I am not concerned about the Saliba situation. I am predisposed to always thinking the worst, then your level of disappointment can be numbed slightly, which is why I started to get twitchy about a year ago with the Saliba situation. I was delighted to see him get straight in to the team, but as soon as we got 10 games in to this season just gone, I’ve had in the back of my mind “we’ve only got a years and a bit on his contract, we need to get this sorted now”. I think I kind of also thought about it when the Marseille loan was done; at the time I thought we should definitely send him to Marseille, but before he leaves we should slap an extra year on his deal. Feels all very Captain Hindsight now, but I do think the club, Arteta and Edu could and should have managed his situation better than they have.
What we have to hope is that the bond he struck up with the players and coaching staff, the fact he is a first choice defender in a team finishing second in the best league in the world, in the richest league in the world, plus he’ll get to play Champions League football for a good side next season, might help to give him that extra desire to tell his people to ‘just do it’ when it comes to the contract signature. I was listening to the Arseblog / ArsenalVision crossover pod they did last week on the last matchweek of the season and Ian Wright was on it talking about Saka. He said that Saka had even told him before they went live on air that there was never in any doubt, this is where he wanted to stay and it was just about sorting out the details. So whilst we were all worried about him over the last few months and the possibility that he could somehow leave, the reality was very different. I have to hope that the same situation is going on with Saliba. Sure, he doesn’t have the same affiliation with the club as Saka, but he will know how much he is loved and what a good trajectory we’ve been on this season, so my hope is that it counts for quite a lot in that young mans mind.
To be fair to Arsenal they’ve moved well in the contract signature game so far. Ramsdale tied up, Gabriel tied up, Martinelli now on a long term deal – there are plenty of examples of how we’ve been doing good work on that front. But until we get any kind of confirmation one way or the other, we’ll continue to be on tenterhooks as he now hits the one year mark left on his deal.
That’ll do from me for today. Back tomorrow with some more musings for you.