Why The OX Saying No Hurts The Most by Dan Smith
Arsene Wenger seems to have accepted that at least three Arsenal first team players will play out their contracts, allowing them to leave for nothing next summer. It perhaps highlights how much money is floating around the Premiership that our club is willing to turn their back on approx 150 million just to retain the services of 3 players for 12 months.
The contact sagas of Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil have in many ways overshadowed the equally uncertain future of Alex Oxlade Chamberlain, however it is the Ox’s refusal to sign a new contract which might sting the most.
Many Gooners accept that the Chilean and German, both in the prime of their careers, deserve to be winning titles and European trophies not currently guaranteed at the Emirates. It’s not that the OX doesn’t but if we are summarizing his career, his entire tenure needs to be analysed, not just the last 12 months. That’s why our Board may be finding it hard to put a number on what the England winger should be taking home. This time last year there would not have been the urgency from supporters to offer the England international over 100 thousand pounds a week. The Opposite in fact!
Like a lot of his British teammates, the Ox has often been used as an example of how our manager puts too much faith in his players. In his 6 years since being signed as a teenager the OX has been dogged by injury, meaning never being a consistent part of the starting line up, with accusations of becoming too comfortable and not challenged enough to develop faster.
In the second half of the last campaign there seemed an effort to be taken mores seriously and viewed more then just the guy who can be funny on Arsenal’s Youtube channel.
From a pure business point of view it is obvious why Stan Kroenke will want as many British players as possible to be on the books, they are easier for fans to relate to which is why they are often chosen to be the ones to sell merchandise from the club’s shop.
Having spent big money on him as an unknown, giving him opportunities at a big club so young, and kept an arm round his shoulder when he clearly had lost his confidence, you can understand why Wenger would now feel let down that in return a player he has groomed is now considering jumping ship when he is needed.
Another factor could be the players desire to play regularly as an attacking CM. No player has benefited from the change to our 5–3-2 formation more then the Ox, a place on the wing ensuring he’s a guaranteed starter. Publicly though he’s never been shy claiming he wants to be the next Steven Gerrard (although his statistics don’t back up his argument). Even a rumored move to Chelsea though would not make that happen. Surely he has more chance of starting ahead of Victor Moses then Eden Hazard at Stamford Bridge.
So his decision not to sign can’t be down to a favored position. Nor can it be for financial gain. While someone deserves to lose their job over just how many contracts have been allowed to run down, it’s the one area where you can’t accuse the club of showing ambition.
They have already offered to pay Sanchez more then any player in our whole history to stay put and you would assume if Theo Waloctt is on 140.000 a week then the OX’s agent can get his client a dramatic pay rise.
This isn’t the days of Fabregas, Nasri or Van Persie, when our owners either wouldn’t or couldn’t (depending on who you believe) pay the going rate. A fact the Manchester clubs took advantage of time and time again.
Outside of Paris, few in Europe can compete with wages on offer in England due to the new TV deal. But that’s what hurts us Gooners. It would be easier to accept if it were all about money. It be easier to understand if he was seeking a move where his precious AM position was waiting for him. But deep down we know the real reasons….. and it hurts.
The brutal reality is when picturing in his mind the next 5 years of his life he can envisage winning titles in West London while perhaps the odd domestic cup in North London. Can we really argue with that thinking?
Don’t just base it on the past, look at the present. It’s not just supporters who were promised change, so were the dressing room. The Ox, having been here for a while has heard and seen all of this before and probably knows how this story ends. He would have expected more than money being spent on only one player this transfer window, income that the club are quietly beginning to recoup. He would have rolled his eyes like the rest of us to hear the Lemar deal is ‘dead’ despite over a month of negotiations. He will expect a plan B to be brought in by Thursday but won’t be surprised if we have put all our eggs in the Monaco basket.
Perhaps improving the wage structure is the wrong area to ‘change’. While all players like to become richer maybe they would rather see money being splashed in the next week.
Maybe they would rather see money used to bring in a Virgil Van Dijk or Mahrez instead of a few more grand added to their contracts.
Maybe they are not greedy and it is as simple as being shown that their employers have the ambition for Premiership titles to be lifted at the Emirates.
And like the rest of us, maybe they know the truth.