The unfortunate trend of Arsenal players slipping through the hands of manager Arsene Wenger is not one that will please many in north London. Arsenal have been burned before within the fiasco that was Flamini and similar problems with Vieira should have given the Gunners’ board and boss ample warning.
Yet they failed to learn from their mistakes and the sight of Nasri and Clichy slinking away to Manchester this summer will have left Wenger abusing a few more water bottles to say the least.
Arsenal fans will feel as though half of all the stories surrounding their club are to do with their players yearning for pastures new these days and surely now it is time for a change. Vermaelen, Walcott and Van Persie are just three of the players who only have a year left on their contract this summer and the red side of north London will be hoping that a repeat of the recent exodus is not on the cards once more.
But with the news that Thomas Vermaelen has just signed a new contract, and that Wilshere too recently signed a five-year deal, does it seem as though Arsenal have finally learned their lesson?
One of the most popular questions at Arsenal’s last AGM meeting between shareholders and chief executive Ivan Gazidis was how the board had allowed players, like Nasri, to be in a position where they could essentially force their sale? And whilst Van Persie’s situation is startlingly similar Arsenal are finally making progress in this department.
The decision to offer long-term contracts and offer them often now appears to be the safest strategy for premiership clubs fearful of potential poachers. We have recently seen Tom Cleverly sign a new long-term deal whilst the only reason Spurs seemed capable of holding on to Luka Modric in the summer was because he had only just signed a new six year deal.
Obviously things are slightly more complicated than just offering a new contract to the players. The player has to want to sign. But, is anyone really suggesting that if Arsenal had offered Samir Nasri the contract they did but a year earlier that he wouldn’t have signed? Arsenal knew Fabregas would be leaving in the near future and the failure to tie down their second most creative player was a grave misjudgement.
So whilst it is still to early to see how Arsenal will deal with the rest of their potential want-away players, contracts such as Wilshere’s should be evidence that Arsenal have finally woken up to the realisation that the reputation of the club alone is no longer enough to ensure player loyalty.
To build for the future is fine, but the club must ensure that those promising players are still there when the future comes around.
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