We’re just getting Ornbomb after Ornbomb at the moment, aren’t we?
And yesterday’s latest explosion was the confirmation of the William Saliba deal, which has been signed, sealed and delivered and I suspect the club are just choosing the right moment to make the announcement, having confirmed Nelson signed a new deal yesterday too. Give it a bit of space, let the news be drip fed through, etc, etc, I suspect.
And this is fantastic news. It was one which, if I’m honesty, I had serious concerns about from about October time, when it became clear that this kid was absolutely mustard, that he was going to be a mainstay in our back line, that he was forging a fantastic partnership with Gabriel and we had gotten a serious upgrade in terms of our defensive solidity with him in at centre half and Ben White moving to right back. He has been one of the key reasons as to why we were able to challenge for the title for so long last season and when you have star players like Gabriel Jesus openly admitting on a podcast that Saliba’s injury was a big reason as to why they didn’t win the Premier League, it shows you just how integral he was and just how important this new deal is for the club.
It’s apparently worth £192k-per-week and you have to say the player is worth it at this moment in time. It is a big chunk of money for somebody so young but let’s face it, this guy is arguably the best centre half in the Premier League, which is the best and most competitive league in the world. And we’ve got him tied down for the foreseeable future.
There was a little debate about the length of the deal and there appears to be some discrepancy between the two big ITK hitters – Ornstein and Romano. Romano has been reporting the whole time that it is a four year deal with a one year option to extend. But Ornstein confirmed last night it is just four years. I copped a bit of flack for it last night when I quote tweeted Pete from Le Grove and him talking about it was a little bit of a shame on the fact the extra year wasn’t added in. I agreed with him and it is the only part of the deal that I was a bit like “oh, that’s a shame”.
Why does it matter though? Shouldn’t we just be happy that he’s signed a new deal?
Well of course we should and, believe me, I am delighted we’ve tied him down. But I guess having that extra year builds in a little more time with which negotiations can take place and a solution be found. Saliba’s camp want a four year deal so they can either negotiate bigger terms after two rather than three, so you can understand that, but it also leaves a young player with their options open if they want to go abroad to a Barca (throws up a little bit), a Real Madrid, PSG or maybe a Bayern in future. I think we all get it and probably know that Saliba probably won’t be an Arsenal player forever. But the idea that in just two summers time we have to go through this worry all over again, as opposed to three year’s time with the ‘plus one’ extension, is a little less palatable, that’s all I’m saying.
And yeah, I get it, maybe that’s just the way things are going with high profile footballers too these days. After all Saska’s agent on his last contract kept it at four years and that has meant we’ve been negotiating with him for the last six to nine months about his deal. But Saka’s agent did that because there was clearly an acknowledgement that the deal that he was on at 19, which was around £70k-per-week I think if the rumours are right, no longer reflected his importance in the side. If he’d have signed a six year deal at Arsenal back then, in theory Arsenal wouldn’t have to do anything until next season and could keep him on that money. But as Arsenal have shown, they are willing to reward high-performers and that’s why we’re hearing talk of Odegaard and White getting new deals. If the club performs well, it means the players are performing well and I guess it means these deals get done like we have in tying down Martinelli, Gabriel, Saka and now Saliba. Players WANT to stay at The Arsenal given the project and that’s a great sign of the positive future we have.
So perhaps I should worry less because in two years time we can be looking at a successful team that Saliba would be mad to want to leave. But Arsenal have to show that they can maintain the levels of performance that we saw last season and that is why next season is so intriguing. Are we going to prove that last season wasn’t a ‘one off’, as some pundits and fans of other clubs have suggested? Or are we going to show that one of the forces in the Premier League for the next few years will be The Arsenal?
Let’s all hope it is the latter.
One final thing though on the Saliba and Saka comparison’s; Saka is an Arsenal kid from Hale End. He loves the club, is English, has his roots with us and I think the tie to this club is closer than that of Saliba. Sure, Saliba liked Arsenal when he was a kid and he was pictured in an Arsenal shirt when he was a nipper, but as a French kid he’s probably more likely to eventually be tempted to the bright lights of mainland Europe. That’s also why I have a few concerns that next time we’re negotiating it might be a little more difficult than this time.
But that’s a problem for another day and another season. For now, my overriding emotion is of happiness and now we can awaiting the juicy new arrival announcements which will surely happen over the next couple of days.
Catch you all tomorrow.