The three youngsters Arsenal NEED to sign to long-term deals
Who could’ve seen this coming? No one expected Arsenal to be sitting at the top of the Premier League come Christmas and yet here we are. The north London side head into the 2022 FIFA World Cup break five points clear at the top, after the Gunners beat Wolves on the final matchday of the campaign before their stars jetted off to Qatar.
Arteta has created an ethos, an impenetrable aura around his side this season and they have ridden the wave of momentum amassing 37 points from their opening 14 contests. A marked improvement in recruitment strategy did not go unnoticed with a good shot of the top four looking like a reasonable target before a ball was kicked, but Arteta has gone above and beyond those expectations, blowing them out the water. Bar a blip at Old Trafford, Arsenal have dispatched their closest rivals with ease.
Their ‘big six’ record stood at three wins and seven losses after all ten games last year; after chalking up victories over Liverpool, Chelsea and north London rivals Tottenham this term they have already matched last season’s performance after fewer than half the fixtures in what has been their best ever start to a Premier League campaign. Arsenal’s odds to win the league this year are 11/5 at the best betting sites. As much as Arsenal’s exceptional form this season was unforeseen, their start to the season is no fluke. The adulation surging through the club from the players on the pitch to the fans in the stands is palpable and it has all started with their youth.
Arteta’s policy of recruiting young malleable talent has paid off and while they will need to strengthen in January if they are to maintain their title push, there are key personnel they will need to keep under lock and key, away from prying eyes in the upcoming transfer window. Here’s a look at three of the biggest names on that list.
Bukayo Saka, contract ends in 2024
The winger has picked up where he left off last season, putting in some of his best performances in an Arsenal shirt to date. He has five goals and six assists in all competitions in this campaign as the forward looks set for a breakout World Cup with England.
Saka has been a near ever-present during Arteta’s time at the club and the 21-year-old is currently enjoying a real purple patch. The England international has been a constant livewire down the right-hand side, with his ability to challenge the defender on both the outside and the inside key to unlocking defences. Tasked with arguably the most tactically demanding role in Arteta’s system, he needs strength in the duels, to hold the width, move swiftly on the last line, create, and score. His ability to spin his man and go either side is at a world-class level and this all in the first three years of his first start for Arsenal.
It’s understandable then why the Gunners are desperate to lock him into a long term deal to extend his stay at the Emirates. The youngster has already hinted heavily at remaining at his boyhood club which will be a promising sign for Arsenal fans but they will be hoping he signs on the dotted line sooner rather than later. There’s no two ways about it, he is the face of Arsenal and will have to be in their long term plans if the Gunners are to establish themselves as a force to be reckoned with in the future.
Gabriel Martinelli, contract ends in 2025
For many Arsenal fans, the Sao Paulo-born attacker has the potential to become one the best in the game, and with Martinelli on course to enjoy a season-high goalscoring year, there’s still plenty to look forward to from the youngster this season after the World Cup.
The Brazilian international is well on his way to becoming one of the deadliest wingers in the world and has played a huge part in giving Arsenal’s attack impetus going forward. His work rate is second to none and he is lethal in front of goal with five goals and two assists to his name so far this season. His energy when in one-on-one situations with opposing defenders has helped the Gunners to create chances out of seemingly nothing. Particularly in the earlier stages of the season, he formed a great partnership with his countryman Jesus linking up with his fellow playmaker on multiple occasions to terrorise defences.
His opening strike against Crystal Palace in the Premier League’s curtain-raiser, the spark that lit the touch paper against Liverpool at the Emirates and the ultimately decisive finish against Villa at home are three goals that go to show how crucial he is to this side; without those contributions, Arsenal would be sitting behind City going into the World Cup break, with an ominous-looking task on their hands. Arsenal’s attack is lethal, it’s the primary reason behind their success so far this season and if they want to maintain that potency in the long term they will need Martinelli in their ranks.
William Saliba, contract ends in 2024
The 21-year-old defender has come back from his loan in Ligue 1 looking like the total package, continuing to defy expectations and firmly establishing himself as not just one of the best defenders in the Premier League, but arguably in all of Europe this campaign.
The Frenchman has had an impressive start after finally getting to play for the Gunners, completely changing the Arsenal backline and transforming their defensive output. The Gunners have conceded the fewest goals in the League alongside Newcastle with only 11 shots making their way past Ramsdale, and they have seven clean sheets to their name as well.
He is a titan in central defence but he can also finish too, contributing with two goals at the other as well this season. Saliba is on the road to becoming a mainstay should he want to stay, but the Gunners will have to fight off interest from some of Europe’s best and brightest clubs if they are to retain his services.
Atletico Madrid are leading the charge after nearly obtaining the defender’s signature this summer, but it is Arsenal who currently have the bargaining power. With Saliba now off to Qatar with France for the World Cup, many Arsenal fans will be hopeful that the youngster is handed a start in the XI from Didier Deschamps.
And every supporter will be praying that Mikel Arteta can work his magic on getting the centre-back to sign a new contract upon his return to England in December.
With those three signed up, Arsenal will be formidable for many years to come..