Wenger partly blamed the contract issues for causing Arsenal to falter in the title race two years ago, where Arsenal went into freefall after the Eduardo incident at Birmingham and lost that big lead they had at the top of the Premiership. Wenger said at the time:
“I do not think on that particular day we lost the championship at Birmingham. There were much more heavier ingredients, like some players not completely focused. Afterwards we had players who were at the end of contracts.”
Wenger was of course referring to the likes of Alexander Hleb and Matthieu Flamini, who both were contemplating futures away from the Emirates and eventually left the club, as well as Emmanuel Adebayor, who also had his head turned by the bright lights of Barcelona and AC Milan, who were rumoured to be offering £30 million plus for his services. These contract disputes led to Arsenal’s demise that season and Wenger is determined for it not to happen again.
That is why banning contract talks is such a shrewd move by Wenger. William Gallas, Sol Campbell and Mikael Silvestre are all out of contract in the summer, but the Frenchman wants to deal with them in the future and focus on the league and Europe now, saying:
“We focus on the games. Now we play Birmingham, Barcelona, Wolves, Barcelona and Tottenham. It is a crucial stage for us.”
And Wenger is right; Arsenal are two points behind leaders Manchester United and face Barcelona in the Champions League on Wednesday at the Emirates. Even though they have by far the easier run in, you can take nothing for granted at this stage of the season and cannot underestimate the likes of Chelsea and Man United.
Wenger is asking everyone, not just Campbell, Gallas and Silvestre, to put the club first and not just think about a bigger contract for themselves. Arsenal need the whole squad to be focused and motivated to win the Premier League and not be victims of complacency. If the club are unable to win the league or the Champions League this season, then maybe some of them are not good enough to play for the club anyway.
I believe this is an excellent move by Wenger to keep his squad concentrating on football and not how fat their wallets are going to get when they get their new contracts.
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