This January Arsenal fans would’ve liked to have seen a few more additions to the side, to give the Gunners a greater chance of a late title challenge. However so far the main news on players this month has been that Arsenal have decided to offer new contracts to a number of the club’s stars.
French trio Francis Coquelin, Olivier Giroud and Laurent Koscielny all put pen to paper with new Arsenal deals earlier this month. They are rumoured to run until 2020, whilst it has also been reported that Wilshere, Ox and Gibbs may also be in for contract negotiations in the coming weeks. Two players who I thought that would also be in contention for new deals, are Santi Cazorla and Per Mertesacker. Both have found injury concerns in the past year or so, thus making appearances few and far between; however it’s a very competitive squad at Arsenal nowadays and there were some concerns as to whether either would be offered a new deal at Arsenal.
Good news today however has been reported by Arsenal boss, Arsene Wenger, who has announced that the Gunners have extended Per Mertesacker’s contract until 2018. Mertesacker had a one year extension option in his previous contract, meaning that Arsenal held the right to extend his commitment to the club by a single year, without the need for negotiations.
Wenger announced the news on Thursday, by revealing to the media: “He is a leader of the team and he is also one of the four centre backs who has experience and can guide the team. There were no negotiations in fact, because he had an option for extension. So it’s not really a new contract, it’s just an extension of the old one. We had to take that option early in the season and the decision was made quite easily.”
There are plenty of mixed opinions about Mertesacker nowadays and it’s largely because many agree that the German may be past his prime ability. We all know that Mertesacker finds pace hard to come by and so with age and more persistent injury concerns starting to kick in as his professional career comes towards an end, it was worth considering if his time at Arsenal was set to finish in the summer.
I think the biggest issue for Mertesacker is finding his way into what is now not just a competitive squad, but a starting eleven that is packed full of quality defenders. Koscielny and Mustafi are no doubt the primary duo, whilst Holding and Gabriel fight for the backup spot. I would argue that if Chambers wasn’t on loan, he may even edge ahead of Mertesacker in contention of a starting spot, leaving you to wonder just what the 32 year old’s role may be. Arsenal are reportedly sticking with the German’s £70k per week wage, so to suggest that Wenger doesn’t think he’s valued by the club would be ridiculous. However I do think that perhaps Le Prof has more of a sidelines position in mind for Mertesacker, with more of a focus on his experience and leadership qualities off the pitch. After all, let’s not forget he is officially the current club captain.
Mertesacker could of course still move on from Arsenal in the summer and I find it very plausible that he may well do. However at least we now have the BFG’s services secured for at least one more season, if he does of course still feature in the bosses’ plans.