Despite a late surge for Champions League qualification, Arsenal failed to make the top-four and will miss Europe’s elite club competition for the first time in over two decades. Apart from this, there is also a wave of uncertainty at the club in terms of ownership, management and the futures of key players like Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil, all factors which make this summer the most important in the Gunners’ recent history.
Perhaps the best case scenario will be that Alisher Usmanov, who seems to be determined to take over this summer, will finally make Stan Kroenke an offer he cannot refuse and banish the American from Arsenal, with Wenger finally deciding to walk and the club being able to retain the services of Sanchez and Co. But being Arsenal fans, we must know by now that the best-case scenario seldom occurs at the Emirates.
But above all, I believe that the most decisive factor this summer will be whether we can hold onto our key players. Apart from Ozil and Sanchez, players like Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Granit Xhaka and Hector Bellerin are all being linked with moves away from the Emirates, and those reports are likely to gain momentum considering Arsenal’s failure to qualify for the Champions League.
If the club fail to retain the services of these players, it is a certainty that they will not be adequately replaced and Arsenal may well turn out to be a mid-table club if that happens. With a lack of Champions League football to go with the inability to compete financially with the League’s big-spenders, it certainly is not rocket science to figure out that making every possible effort to hold on to these players is Arsenal’s best chance to avoid spiraling down into mid-table obscurity.
Personally, I would love to see Usmanov take over this summer, despite the billionaire admitting that he would like to retain Wenger’s services if a take over does happen. But whether or not ‘Silent Stan’ decides to budge, the onus should be to keep the club’s best players at any cost. Considering that the club cannot attract talent of the same pedigree this summer, whether or not we can hold on to the world-class talent already at the club will be the decisive factor in regards to Arsenal’s future.