Arsene Wenger looks determined to extract as much as he can from Bacary Sagna before the full-back departs Arsenal this summer. The veteran defender deputised at centre-back this past Sunday for the trip to Norwich, replacing Per Mertesacker, and will without doubt play in his favoured position at right-back in the FA Cup final on Saturday.
Arsenal have gotten the very best out of Sagna, who arrived from Auxerre in 2007 and instantly became a hit at the Emirates. The club have seen his best years, with the French international twice being named in the Premier League Team of the Season. That Arsenal have looked so comfortable in that position is testament to the quality of Sagna and his professionalism through extremely trying times over the past few seasons.
But there should be no grudges about the 31-year-old wanting to move on. In fact, had Arsenal laid out a more serious and respectable contract offer last summer, the likelihood is Sagna would still be playing his football at the Emirates next season. Reportedly, the club only offered a two-year extension and fell short of Sagna’s wage demands. The club’s lack of foresight on the matter goes to show that Wenger still hasn’t come to fully appreciate the contribution of experienced figures in his squad. Versatile veterans can make all the difference in title races.
Sagna’s camp may be riling the Arsenal support now that the league season is over, with the player expressing pubic uncertainty over his future and congratulating Samir Nasri on his title victory with Manchester City this weekend, though seemingly failing to mask his own disappointment at never lifting the Premier League trophy during his time in England. History looks set to repeat itself, with Sagna a target for City, and it’s more than understandable why Arsenal supporters are up in arms about the potential switch.
The thing is, there is no harm in Sagna moving on to a Premier League rival. The fans have shown no compromise in their loyalty to the player, but Arsenal as a club certainly have. The right-back knows his value, even at this stage of his career, and considering the years of excellence he’s shown to the north London side, why shouldn’t he get what he wants if another club is willing to offer it? It’s not to say Arsenal weren’t capable of matching Sagna’s demands, nor is it anyone else’s fault that he’s set to be tempted elsewhere.
Arsenal will lose Sagna’s experience as well as his ability along the back four. But both of those attributes can be bought. Arsenal aren’t struggling financially going into this summer’s transfer period. They need two right-backs, as Carl Jenkinson is both not good enough and set to go on loan. And though there is a distinct shortage of high-end full-backs across the continent who are available, it isn’t an impossible task to buy and replace effectively.
Sagna has given seven fantastic years to Arsenal, and while there have been lows during his stay, the loyalty he has shown throughout warrants a peaceful sending off. The FA Cup would be a fitting end to his time at the Emirates, and while there is disappointment to his departure, don’t begrudge a player who was apparently willing to stay but couldn’t sway the notorious inflexibility of Arsenal and Wenger.