Thursday, February 29, 2024

Contract percentages + Lana update

Morning all, some quick Wednesday bits for you.

Mikel Arteta will meet the press later today ahead of our Europa League game with PSV tomorrow evening. We might get a bit of team news, but more likely we’ll be told players who might be in doubt will be assessed. We’ll have all the exciting updates over on Arseblog News, and we’ll preview the game properly on the blog tomorrow.

In The Athletic yesterday (£), James clarified the contract situations of three players whose deals have been the subject of some speculation. Bukayo Saka and William Saliba run until 2024, Gabriel Martinelli has a deal which includes an option to extend it to 2026. There had been some reports that the club held options on the first two to take them beyond that 2024 mark, but that point is the marker for renewals for Saliba and Saka.

Realistically, next summer – June 2023 – is another key date, because if we haven’t found any agreement with them by then, we’re going to have to consider the unpalatable option. However, I’m about 98% confident that Saka will sign. Right now he’s not earning anything close to what he should based on his contribution and importance to the team, given that he signed an extension in 2020 at a time when he was breaking through. Even if there were built-in increases across the duration of the deal, the way his career has developed since means he’s more than earned new terms.

The one thing that gives me a slight bit of pause is that he shares the same agent as Eddie Nketiah and Flo Balogun. The former signed a new contract, and a very lucrative one too, with just weeks remaining on his deal and with speculation rife that he’d be departing on a free transfer. Balogun was certainly inside the last 6 months of his deal when he signed, so bringing it down to the wire isn’t unusual. That said, I think their situations were very different to Saka’s.

Eddie wanted assurances about his role in the team; Balogun was a young player of potential who hadn’t made any real headway as a first team player. Saka is the real deal already. He’s crucial to the team, and securing his future is clearly going to be a priority for the club. The player is in a strong position because of how good he is more than the time remaining on the contract, and the fact that Arsenal are also good right now should make this one less complicated than it might have been.

That sense of going places as a club might well be decisive for Saliba too. We know there have been some bumps on the road since his arrival, and I wrote a couple of weeks ago about how strong a position he is in when it comes to his contract. You would just hope that the fact he’s playing regularly having made a real connection with the fans, and in a team which is fun and exciting, will play a big part in his decision.

I’m absolutely sure we’ll be fighting against offers from other clubs, those back-channel briefings which offer the world if a player just runs down his deal and leaves for free, but like Saka I think there’s a short-term consideration when it comes to his salary. He too is surely underpaid based on how important he’s become, and if he continues his trajectory, the ‘big’ clubs will always be interested. As a 21 year old though, a few more seasons in the Premier League at a club which suits him would probably be the best decision if you’re genuinely trying to develop a career.

Like I said though, his hand is very strong, and that’s something Arsenal just have to live with. If I had to put a percentage on it, I’d go a little bit above 50%. Like 50.00002%. I kid, I’d say about 60% but fingers crossed.

As for Martinelli, I think the Brazilian factor at Arsenal right now is a really positive aspect of his renewal. We have so many other Gabriels, Edu’s churrascaria will always be around the corner, and I genuinely think he likes it at the club. Percentage: 91%.

I mentioned yesterday that this World Cup break gives clubs a chance to think more strongly about the January transfer market. The same might also be true for contract renewals, even if some of the players will be away. Time will tell!

Finally for today, an update on Lana, the younger of the two Arseblog German Shepherds. 6 weeks ago yesterday she had a total hip replacement, and has spent those weeks almost entirely confined to a crate bar some excursions into the garden on a lead and on a sling to protect the new hip. Having received the all-clear from the vets, she’s now allowed out off her sling to move around the garden, and while exercise has to be increased gradually and her leg is still quite weak, she’s doing really well as the picture below shows.

Thanks to everyone he’s been in touch about it! Right, that’s it for this morning, have a good one.

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