This morning sees the first test of the ‘new’ Arsenal emerge with reports that the club offered Aaron Ramsey a new five-year deal. Every report declares it’s ‘sign or be sold’, which is a hefty declaration for the club to make. And this has been dropped by the club into the media, not Ramsey’s agent; the angle of the story is wrong for that.
A lot of people view Ramsey as the new captain which is a surprise: the armband, robbed of its’ traditional role by Arsène’s philosophy of having eleven leaders on the pitch, is a poisoned chalice. Since Thierry Henry succeeded Patrick Vieira, successive captains were sold, retired, or suffered horrendous injuries. Ramsey’s done the latter, is too young to hang up his boots, so it’s only the former left.
That’s a good basis for talks…
It’s quite right that there is a time limit put on negotiations. Too often in the past, we’ve left things to hang and paid over the odds. Not just in Mesut Ozil’s case – more on that later – but also, for example, Theo Walcott. Tortuous negotiations every time with diminishing returns.
The situation must be avoided with Ramsey. Understandably, he won’t rush to sign his last big contract. Next time around, he’s looking at a deal to see out his playing days and at 31, 32, it’s unlikely to be at Arsenal without a coaching contract at the same time.
Initial reports claim Unai Emery wants to build his side around Ramsey. That’s a positive since he’s got to persuade players of their futures in negotiations. Pay will be an issue; making the Wales international the key to the side means a heftier pay packet thanks to Ozil’s deal. The Times maintains that was a divisive issue in the second half of the season, a claim never contradicted.
English to the British Core
For what it’s worth, if Ramsey is the basis for the side, then retaining him is vital. If that means paying more than the club wants, that’s the hole they dug for themselves.
Another test for the club is Jack Wilshere, but this time for the coach. Terms are agreed, just the issue of where Jack fits into the scheme of things.
Don’t ask me, I haven’t a scooby. He should be at the heartbeat of the side and we know injuries deprived him of that role. If I’m honest, I can’t ever see him being that ‘king’. This is where Emery’s football philosophy and man-management kick in. Wilshere lost out on a World Cup place this summer but will only be 29 next time around.
Theoretically, he could be at Qatar and Morocco – yes, US soccer chums, your president is making the wrong kind of waves again, this time with FIFA. But Wilshere needs to play as much as possible – every week seems overly optimistic given his history – and is he going to get that at Arsenal? And is being a squad player at Arsenal better for his career than playing every week for, say, Southampton or Crystal Palace?
Which is the second fire to put out? The third is Mesut Özil. Was last season down to contract uncertainty? Did his salary distract or inject complacency? I harbour the hope that a good World Cup along with the change of coach will reinvigorate him to reproducing the form of a previous couple of seasons.
Floating along in the background is Danny Welbeck’s future. There’s an interesting interview doing the rounds about how he managed the psychological impact of the injuries he’s suffered. No mention of his contract which is, he says, a post-World Cup issue.
All’s Welbz That Ends…Well
And as with Wilshere, the question going through his mind must be where he fits in. Aubameyang and Lacazette are ahead of him in the starting line-up, so too Mkhitaryan for one of the wide roles.
Which leaves Welbeck on the bench, in the cups, and basically cover. Is that what he wants? It’s certainly not going to improve his England chances, which despite being top-scorer in the World Cup 23-man squad, remain slim.
Previously, he claimed he wanted to be a central striker. He’s not prolific enough to make that happen although he may argue he’s never been given a run to prove it or to grow into it. I think his debut came against Manchester City when he spurned a glorious opportunity to score what would have been the decisive goal. It sums him up; a good to have, but not a must-have.
In all honesty, if he’s not signing the deal put in front of him then his sale is a no-brainer. Emery will like him because he works hard for the team but for a striker, is that enough? For me, no.
Incoming this morning is Stephan of Lichtenstein, Sokratis and a young Turk, this time Yacine Adli who is set to follow Unai Emery from PSG and is ready to be the first signing of the Emery era. Makes a difference in perception, I suspect, that it’s a 17-year=old which sends a signal of a vibrancy and future planning. It also rams home the message that Stephan of Liechtenstein is a squad player, nothing more.