Another season has come, and just like that, gone. The season wasn’t short of drama and controversy for the Gunners, however, more pressing issues now need to be resolved. With another year off the contracts, Arsenal finds themselves in a position where no fewer than 7 members of this season’s squad are out of contract next season. The high profile cases of Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez have been well documented, but the Arsenal front office have a lot of work to do to secure these players.
With that being said, I thought I would look at all the players that have their contracts expiring at the end of this coming season, and make the case whether they should be here past this season.
ALEXIS SANCHEZ – AGE (28)
- Total Appearances: 51
- Total Goals: 30
- Total Assists: 13
I’m running out of superlatives to describe Alexis. Becoming only the fifth Arsenal player to score over 20 league goals in a season, the first since Robin Van Persie in the 2011/12 season and without a shadow of a doubt our most important player. Without him, who knows where we would have ended up in the table. His displays of petulance towards the end of the season did rake my nerves, but it displays the winning attitude I feel so many other members of the squad lack. If we are to mount any serious assault on the title in the coming season, keeping Sanchez is paramount to that success
MY VERDICT: Give the man what he wants.
MESUT OZIL – AGE (28)
- Total Appearances: 44
- Total Goals: 12
- Total Assists: 12
Although this was a down year for Mesut in assists in the league (9) compared to last term (19), his influence on the way we play our football was evident to see. His languid style of play often leads to the misconception that he doesn’t care about the club, but I for one would wholeheartedly disagree with that. This doesn’t mean he should be absolved of criticism for some of his performances throughout the season, but in his new advanced role in the 3-5-2 formation, his abilities were evident for the world to see.
MY VERDICT: Imperative to keep.
AARON RAMSEY – AGE (26)
- Total Appearances: 32
- Total Goals: 4
- Total Assists: 5
A season marred by injury and inconsistency for Ramsey yielded a pretty poor return. However, a partnership with Xhaka in the middle of the field seemed to bring the best out of him. Having the knowledge of Xhaka shouldering most of the defensive duties allowed Ramsey the licence to roam forward and make those late runs into the box. One thing that Ramsey can’t be accused of lacking is energy, and that energy allows him to be the perfect box-to-box compliment for Xhaka. However, it does seem he has favour with Wenger and is immediately reinstated into the team as soon as he recovers from his injury at the expense of a player that might be on form.
MY VERDICT: Keep. Wenger is finally keeping him in one position and allowing him to find fluidity in his game. Very good player.
JOEL CAMPBELL – AGE (25)
2016/17 stats (on loan at Sporting Lisbon):
- Total Appearances: 25
- Total Goals: 3
- Total Assists: 4
Since he joined Arsenal in 2011, it seems like this move has never materialised into anything. He has been shipped on loan 5 times since joining the league and never been able to lock down a place in the first team. If the 3-5-2 system is to be retained, it is hard to see where he is going to fit in. He has the athleticism to play at left wing-back, but with the addition of Sead Kolasinac along with Nacho Monreal and Kieran Gibbs, it is hard to see where his minutes in the league are coming from.
VERDICT: Been hard done by, but I would attempt to sell him on.
CARL JENKINSON – AGE (25)
- Total Appearances: 5
- Total Goals: 0
- Total Assists: 0
This fairytale move for Jenkinson hasn’t materialised whatsoever. When Debuchy and Bellerin were both down with injury, I thought it was the perfect time for Jenkinson to stake his claim for the starting role. He has all the attributes that are needed to be successful: Height, Physicality, and Speed. All attributes that are needed for the modern day full-back, but it just seems like he isn’t making the necessary improvements and his game has completely stalled to the extent that he has become a dispensable asset.
MY VERDICT: Should be sold on.
JACK WILSHERE – AGE (25)
2016/17 Stats (on loan at Bournemouth):
- Total Appearances: 29
- Total Goals: 0
- Total Assists: 2
Although the stats don’t scream out at you as impressive with Wilshere registering more yellow cards (4) than assists (2), I felt Wilshere was integral in Bournemouth finishing in the top half of the table. He managed to create 34 chances in the games he featured in and finished the season with an average passing accuracy of 84%. The once Golden boy and future of English football his seen his career stalled significantly by injuries, but at still only 25, he has time to deliver on the potential that saw him break into the first team as a teenager. With Santi Cazorla becoming much more injury prone, Wilshere is the most capable of taking over that position but in order to do so, it is imperative to turn all that potential into consistent performances.
MY VERDICT: I would keep him. Love the passion he brings to the team and I can see him being a valuable member of the squad.
SANTI CAZORLA – AGE (32)
- Total Appearances: 11
- Total Goals: 2
- Total Assists: 3
Our diminutive Spaniard. The hub of our creativity. Santi has been exceptional since his arrival from Malaga in 2012. He has transformed himself in these latter stages of his career moving from the number 10 role more into a deep-lying playmaker. His deal is different from the aforementioned players because there is a team option to extend for a further year. However, although it might not be what people want to hear due to Santi’s role in the team, it might be time to start planning for life without him. His injuries are piling up and seem to be very repetitive. Having last been seen in action against Ludogorets in October of 2016, by the time the 2017/18 season comes, it will be coming up to a year since he last played a competitive game.
MY VERDICT: Will have to let him go if he can’t stay healthy. His situation isn’t as pressing as the others due to the clause in the contract.