Archive for April 27th, 2010

Expiring Contracts: Who’ll sign and who’ll leave?

348 comments April 27th, 2010

Contract negotiations at Arsenal are often more complicated than at other clubs.  Arsene has his policies, the players have their demands, and it’s up to Ivan Gazidis to find a mid-point between the two.  It’s often down to someone blinking first, but even as the end of the season approaches there are a few cases wherein nobody has yet blunk.  Blinked.  Whichever.

When William Gallas signed for Arsenal as part of the part-exchange deal that took Ashley Cole to Chelsea, it was seen as something of a coup.  Gallas replaced the departing Sol Campbell, whilst we already had a capable back-up to Cole in a young Gael Clichy.

Four years later, Gallas is able to look back on a mixed time at Arsenal.  His first season was impressive and saw him inherit the captaincy from Thierry Henry.  It was then that the troubles started, with outbursts in the press coinciding with mistakes and tantrums on the pitch.  Since being stripped of the armband around 18 months ago, however, Gallas’ form has been impeccable.  From being in a seemingly untenable position, he has turned his fortunes around with a series of ultra-professional performances, latterly forming an effective partnership with Thomas Vermaelen that had Arsene cooing as recently as December.

And yet still no deal has been signed.  Gallas has been the club’s highest earner across that four year period, taking home a cool £80,000 p/week.  It’s certain that figure will have been up for negotiation, but the bigger stumbling block will be Arsene’s policy of only offering one year deals to players over thirty.  Gallas, 33 at the start of next season, will be keen to seek greater security, and with rumours of a two year deal with Serie A contenders Roma on the table, I expect him to seek new pastures.  He survived a difficult period to emerge with some credibility, but his professionalism on the pitch extends to negotiations off it too.  He’ll do the deal that’s best for him, and that almost certainly means a move away.
Verdict: LEAVING

Sol Campbell has an edge over all contenders in the run-down of Arsene’s best signings: he’s been a great signing, for free, twice.  After leaving under something of a cloud in 2006, he has returned four years later older, wiser, but seemingly just as formidable a defender.  I think we all expected him to play a game or two in the cups then disappear back down the divisions.  But Sol has raged against the dying of the light, producing some outstanding displays of the dual arts of defending and, more importantly, leadership.  His return was capped by a dogged display at White Hart Lane, and while talk of him going to the World Cup is probably something of a stretch, it’s not hard to see his legs carrying him through another league campaign.

The question, surprisingly, seems to be not whether Arsene would give him another deal, but whether or not Sol would want one:

“He’s not desperate to stay. I told you Sol needs a target and a focus. At the moment I am not sure what he wants to do. He marries in July, so maybe he will go on holiday for a year. But if he sets himself a target he’s an unbelievable soldier.”

If the target of another crack at the Premier League title appeals, Arsenal could do much worse than having this “unbelievable soldier” in their ranks.
Verdict: SIGNING

Something I meant to say in my sparse report of the City game is that it was arguably Mikael Silvestre’s finest performance in an Arsenal shirt, with the possible exception of his debut at home to Everton in October 2008.  On that day, Arsenal fans were surprised to a no frills, sturdy centre-back getting rid of the ball at the first opportunity.  Many even felt he deserved an extended run in the team.

Sadly for Silvestre, it didn’t get much better than that.  Alex Ferguson would never sell a player he really rated to a rival, and the Silvestre he let go was a shadow of the man he signed from Inter Milan nearly a decade before.  The way in which Silvestre has been overtaken by an older and out-of-practise Campbell is the most damning indictment of his time at the club.
Verdict: LEAVING

It’s easy to forget that he’s still on our books, but when the season and Senderos’ loan spell at Everton ends, he’ll briefly be an Arsenal player before his contract expires and he sets about finding a new club.  A permanent deal at Goodison would be welcome, but with just two starts to his name so far it’s hard to say how likely that might be.  Once one of Europe’s most prized defenders, a guy who has played for AC Milan as well as most of the way to the Champions League Final could soon find himself hawking his services around mid-table clubs – or, God forbid, Ligue 1.
Verdict: LEAVING

For a long time, Fran Merida has lived in Cesc Fabregas’ shadow.  Like Cesc, he came through La Macia, Barcelona’s fabled youth system.  He lodged in the same North London home, and even played in the same central midfield position.  Like Cesc, his early impact in the youth and reserve teams was phenomenal: Merida’s left boot carried enormous expectations.  However, one crucial difference between the pair is that Cesc was lucky enough to emerge at a time when he had an injury crisis in our midfield.  Arsene was forced to play him, and Fabregas stepped up to the mark.  Merida has shown flashes of brilliance – a Carling Cup goal against Liverpool stands out – but for the most part has seen himself at the back of a lengthy queue of midfield talent, most of whom aren’t that much older than him.  It’s also not clear whether Merida has the physical assets to cut it in the rough and tumble of the English game.

Anyway, it seems the frustrated Spaniard is going to take fate in to his own hands.  After his breakthrough season at the club, in which he’s played eight games and scored two goals, Merida seems set to turn down the offer of a new deal and sign for Athletico Madrid.  If the likes of Ramsey and Wilshere can fulfill their potential, I’m not sure we’ll miss him.
Verdict: LEAVING

Till next time, folks.

Search Gunnerblog

Get your Gunnerblog t-shirts now!

get regular updates from GS with twitter

Top Gunn

Cesc Fabregas
The man in form.

    Retro Arsenal T-Shirts from - Bringing Back The Good Old Days!: Click Here!

Latest Posts

Sponsored Links


April 2010
« Mar   May »

Posts by Month

Most Recent Posts

Posts by Category


Powered By

eXTReMe Tracker