End of season, end of contracts and an end of season revamp.
At least at Arsenal, it’s not so much a revamp as a possible clear-out of all the deadwood. A couple have come to the end of their contracts – Tomas Rosicky and Mikel Arteta being standout names – but there are a few that are patently obvious in terms of giving them their P45 and a quick thank you, as they leave quietly by the back door. It’s a bit like watching a Coronation Street name leaving and seeing them looking back helplessly through the back window, as the final credits and music descend. It’ll be like that for those that Arsene Wenger needs to move on.
It’s certainly plausible to consider that the Frenchman knows which players he wants to retain and which ones he’ll ring the minicab company for.
But, if he’s not sure, here are FIVE ‘must go’ names…
Sorry, but Chambers just isn’t up to playing for such a club as Arsenal. He’s way out of his league here and needs to step down. What once looked like a potentially good pairing is now about as exciting as watching paint dry.
The now 21-year-old Chambers left Saints for the Gunners two years ago, but could return to the south coast on loan after failing to start a Premier League game last season. It’s known that he has a fan in the Gunners’ boss – made clear after he spent £16m on the player – but Wenger has already admitted that he cannot offer him regular first team football next season. Chambers played 57 times for Southampton, mainly at right-back, but only started in the FA Cup last term, with Wenger preferring experienced duo Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny, while moving away from using him at right-back.
This summer will mark 12 months since Walcott signed his latest long-term deal with the club. However, on the evidence of this season, he may not be around to see that contract to its completion. 36 appearances across all competitions yielded just eight goals last term, and his form tailed off dramatically in the second half of the campaign.
Currently, he finds himself behind the likes of Joel Campbell and Alex Iwobi in the pecking order for the wide positions, while Danny Welbeck’s return has limited Walcott’s opportunities as a centre-forward. His international career also remains in the balance.
In the summer of 2013, Flamini was signed on a free transfer as an emergency midfield option. Three years on, he started for Arsenal in the Nou Camp. Unfortunately, that says more about Arsenal’s lack of midfield options than Flamini’s progression. After a bright start to his second spell at Arsenal, he has begun to fall well short of the expected standards. His contract is set to expire this summer, and there’s little chance of a renewal.
The England international has struggled for form and his debatable fitness levels have seen him fall behind the likes of Campbell and Iwobi in Wenger’s plans, and at 23, it’s imperative he begins to play regular first-team football if he’s to achieve his potential.
Oxlade-Chamberlain has the talent to be a star, but it’s difficult to see him making the grade at Arsenal. A step back to a smaller club may be required before his career can move forward.
The ‘BFG’ always seems lost in the heart of defence, and maybe the Premier League is too much for the Germany international. However, Wenger appears to value him and that could mean that Arsenal fans are struck with him for at least another season, but chances are the Frenchman will let him go and a replacement is already being lined up. Apparently, Arsenal have shelved plans to offer vice-captain Per Mertesacker a new contract extension even though he is about to enter the final year of his current deal. Interesting!