Santi Cazorla, Aaron Ramsey and Gedion Zelalem join the likes of Per Mertesacker and Tomas Rosicky in committing their futures to Arsenal even further. The rumours are now that Laurent Koscielny will be next on the list. This is of course all very good news and it looks as if we are flexing our new commercial income muscles. You can be sure that the likes of Laurent Koscielny and Aaron Ramsey have had clubs whispering in the ears of their agents.
I wouldn't be at all surprised if Koscielny for example has attracted the likes of Bayern Munich and Barcelona. Those are teams who are built to have his type of player as their centre back. But the board and manager know that the club have to jump up a band in the wages stakes if we are to avoid doing what has crippled us for years now and that is lose our best players as soon as a team looks like forging itself together.
Regular readers on this blog may remember me saying more than once how I would much rather we were able to keep hold of what we had if it meant spending less on players because I always backed the manager to improve and develop players if they stuck around long enough. Hopefully today we are in a position to achieve both and that can only make us stronger.
So what of those who are yet to put pen to paper? I say 'those' but one of those people are in fact the manager along with right back Bacary Sagna. Here is the thing, I think Sagna has turned his Bacary on us (sorry) which is fine. He has been very loyal and has stuck with us for years now. He is coming towards the end of his peak years and is unlikley to improve as a player from this point onwards. He may want to either have a new challenge or indeed one last pay off. As long as it is not to Tottenham then I can pretty much appreciate whatever he does when the season ends.
For me, Bac is the best right back I have seen playing for us since I first started watching Arsenal, back in 1990. Better than Dixon and Lauren in my opinion. Wow, we've only had three first choice right backs in 24 years. That is what you call continuity. I think we would struggle to find a right back as good a Sagna defensively but should Sagna want to leave then this could be a chance to evolve rather than replace.
Sagna is often our spare attacking outlet on the right, often left one on one with a left back or covering winger but creating chances is not Sagna's strength. Maybe that is where Arsène can improve the team, finding a right back who can double up as a winger when the opportunity arises. But this is for the summer I guess. Bacary is still an Arsenal player and we need to see how this unfolds.
But what of the manager? The club have spoken publicly in bullish terms about how Arsène will stay on but Arsène has still not signed a new deal. When pressed he always answers that nobody can question his commitment to this club. Arseblog spoke this morning about how Arsène could say his goodbyes with the club left in fantastic shape and that is very plausible. It is unlike him to leave a contract for so long so it makes me worry a little but what of this as a possible reason for the wait?
How about half way through the season he gathered his squad together and said something along the lines of 'We have a fantastic squad with players and you guys have a special attitude. I have been let down by so many players in the past who said they would commit themselves to this club. I am in the last year of my deal but I want to know that you all want to be successful together. You have my word that if you commit your future to this club then I will do the same'
Everyone but Sagna are on board so far it seems, maybe Arsène is waiting until the end to sign his. Far fetched? probably but I have as much idea as my goldfish as to why his contract remains unsigned so I guess we will see.
He has worked so hard to get to this position, he has overseen the stadium move and in his own words has had to make £30m a year while some competing teams go £150m in the red every year. He now has a core of players who are hungry, many young and improving with cash to spend. Why quit now? I certainly hope not. He deserves a chance to finish rebuilding this squad on a much more level playing field.
In other news Abou Diaby is close to returning to training. I was thinking this afternoon how he is probably my biggest regret when it comes to Arsenal. Imagine he had stayed relatively fit from 2006 until now, I honestly think he would be spoken about as one of the best midfielders in the game. Unfortunately I think he will be remembered for a player who didn't keep it simple when he should have, inconsistent and injured. Some of this is true but I am convinced that would have been ironed out of his game a long time ago. He had his ankle shattered during a time when he was a developing player. In fact he was a developing player who was never able to develop and that for me is sad. Power, skill, technique, dribbling ability, scored goals, won the ball the guy had it all and it was cruelly taken away by a nobody like Dan Smith.
Before thinking that Diaby was not that good a player, remember that the same was said of Aaron Ramsey who *touch wood* didn't have an injury related set back. But time is certainly running out for him with his contract ending in 2015 it is pretty likely that the new season is make or break for him. (no pun intended)