It seems as though the previous summer was merely an anomaly – when it comes to Manchester City sniffing round Arsenal’s squad – with reports emerging that City are ready to offer Bacary Sagna the three-year contract he desires.
With Arsenal having seemingly shaken off the tag of ‘selling club’, it should be of paramount importance for the club’s hierarchy to tie the Frenchman down to a long-term contract.
With 276 games under his belt, Sagna is the most-capped right-back during Wenger’s years as Arsenal boss and has been a model of consistency. His first season in 2007-08 he was inducted into the PFA Premier League Team of the Year, and repeated this achievement three years later.
Arsenal’s policy of one-year contract extensions for over-30s makes the situation with Sagna a difficult one. But Arsenal and Wenger’s well-known stubbornness needs to give a little. Two leg-breaks in the space of a year saw Sagna struggle briefly for form. But this season he has proven his worth to the side. Sagna has been a regular fixture in a defence which has, on the whole, made significant leaps forward from the Arsenal teams of recent years.
In terms of commitment and work-rate there are few in the Arsenal side who can match Sagna. When backs are against the wall, Bac usually comes up trumps. The Gunners’ ability to grind out more results this season is tribute to the defensive resolve they have shown and Sagna is often right in the mix. He is gritty, determined and hyper-physical, all characteristics not often attributed to Arsene Wenger’s side.
Sagna’s versatility is also something that Wenger cannot afford to overlook. With just three recognised centre-backs in the first-team squad, his ability to fill the gap if needs be is necessary. Wenger isn’t one for making large squad changes in the summer transfer window so the likelihood of recruiting two new centre-backs, assuming Thomas Vermaelen leaves, is quite low.
Despite his relative inexperience in the position, Sagna’s positional awareness and experience have shone through during the times he’s been called upon to fill a central role.
It brings into questions the club’s appreciation of somebody as loyal as Sagna if they don’t cede somewhat in negotiations. For seven years he’s been omnipresent in a side that has had more than a few wobbles along the way. There have been no stories of dressing room problems, no paper talk of him itching for a move away, and no off-field drama of the type Olivier Giroud has excelled at this season.
If there ever was a person the club should look into recalibrating its contract policy for, Sagna is that person.
Despite recent hiccups, it would be fair to suggest that this season Arsenal have made steps in the direction they want to head in. And defensive improvements have been a large part in this. If the club wants to continue to progress, having players like Sagna around the club with the experience and know-how of the club is vital.
With Carl Jenkinson still in need of some development before he could fairly stake his claim to be the first choice option, there are few better players to learn the trade from than Bacary Sagna.
Reports in The Mirror have suggested in recent days that Arsenal are actually prepared to bend when it comes to Sagna. But the fact that his contract expires in just three months is a great concern. The club should be breaking their backs to get him to sign up.
He’s been Mr Consistent for a number of years now and Arsenal need more of that. Losing him would be a great loss to the club. And losing him to Manchester city would rub further salt into the wounds.