As I was typing what was originally going to be this morning’s post, news reached me that a Stoke City fanzine is apparently creating another article which highlights more selfish and disrespectful behaviour from Aaron Ramsey toward them, their club and its players. Having the temerity to tell their supporters to quieten down from barracking him as opposed to seeking their forgiveness for scoring at The Emirates earlier this season, Ramsey has apparently made matters worse by signing a further extension to his contract at Arsenal and not donating the additional salary to Ryan Shawcross, whom they believe is due a share of the glory for his part in providing the midfielder with motivation to enjoy the heights of he currently occupies. Ramsey has further exacerbated the situation by returning to full training without donating his right leg to the Orc Hospital for use by those whose misfortune began when they were born in Stoke.
With the FA Cup Quarter Final looming, Arsenal have announced that Per Mertesacker and Tomas Rosicky have both extended their stay at the club. At the time there were rumours of a Third Man, a mysterious deal being agreed. Initial reports were confused and a few names were mentioned but The Guardian has reported the Ramsey deal as he begins full training, targeting the Tottenham game for a return although some outlets believe the trip to Munich is a possibility. An online petition has begun demanding that Arsenal enter immediate negotiations with Nicklas Bendtner to persuade the Dane not to leave the club. He has, he feels, been hard done by and explained that far from being displaying psycopathic tendencies, all his misdemeanours were cutting edge marketing ploys. Damage to cars in Sunderland? A stunt thought up by Bashem’s Body Shop. Trousers round his ankles outside a London club? Sue, Grabbit and Runne’s new Accident Injury Helpline Lawyers are waiting to help you recover on a nice bed of cash for the trip that wasn’t your fault. Nicklas is just misunderstood and it’s time the club recognised this. Let’s hope they see sense.
Topping off the whole contract cake is the cherry with reports suggesting the club is taking up a one-year option on Santi Cazorla’s contract.
The biggest plus out of that plethora of news is the indication that the tide has turned on the over-30s contract policy which has been slowly fading over recent years. Whether this is a final recognition from the manager that the older players have much to offer and are as important to the squad as youth or a practicality that can now be indulged financially, depends on your viewpoint. It was always nonsensical to offer players annual rolling contracts when more than ever, at that time in their careers they want the certainty of longer timescales. No doubt Arsène was right to release some or not offer longer contracts but some others you feel left too soon, that subsequent squads would have benefited from a touch more experience. It is no use crying over spilt milk.
I cannot think of any reason anyone would not feel lifted by the quartet of contract renewals. Mertesacker has formed a good partnership with Koscielny and provides the leadership the defence was missing. His is the strongest personality and one that commands respect, not just in his performances but in his desire to win and do well for the club. That and a self-deprecating sense of humour seem to make him as popular in the squad as in the stands.
The renewals of the older players contracts provide a stark contrast to Bacary Sagna’s situation. Of course we would like that to be resolved favourably but more than anything the deals for Rosicky and Mertesacker underline that the length of the contract offered is not likely to be the barrier to a successful resolution of the full back’s negotiations; it’s cash. I guess the question for the club is whether they can afford to let him go. Some of that will be influenced by Thomas Vermaelen’s situation; the Belgian is not going to relish another season on the bench, surely, and I would expect him to leave next summer after the World Cup. There is nothing wrong in his desire for first team football, especially as it may impact his international career. The question that the club has to weigh up is whether losing two experienced defenders at the same time is a cost they are willing to absorb? That is a small cloud on the horizon but with a few months yet before Sagna’s contract expires – and no obligation on the club’s part to sell Vermaelen, it must be said – there is much scope for the footballing landscape to change. And the racing certainty is that it probably will, one way then the other, such is the nature of contractual negotiations.
Please sir, can I have some more? Good news that is.
More? Yea Gods, people. OK, Kim Kallstrom’s ambition of matching Ju Young Park’s appearance record for Arsenal is finally on track with the Swedish international reportedly nearing readiness for first team action. This weekend is judged too soon in the reports but with next week’s trip to Munich sandwiched between the FA Cup and North London Derby, Kallstrom’s availability will at least give Wenger options in his team selection and (hopefully) not cause the return of Ramsey to be rushed.
That is it for today, it’s all good news’d out.