I don’t need to tell you who is the most important player entering the final year of their Arsenal contract. The Alexis Sanchez saga is well-documented and not very well liked by Gooners. So, to try and shake things up, let’s talk about all the first-teamers entering the final twelve months of their deals. Here is Arsenal’s expiring contracts XI.
Arsenal’s Expiring Contracts XI
GK – Wojciech Szczesny
The Polish keeper spent the last two seasons on loan at Roma, following Petr Cech’s arrival at the club.
His time at the Italian capital was successful, as Roma finished in second place in Serie A last year. Szczesny played every minute of the league campaign, recording 14 shut-outs (highest in the league).
Overall he made 81 appearances for Roma in all competitions over two seasons, to add to his 181 games as an Arsenal man.
The 6’5″ shot-stopper could be the long-term answer in goal for the Gunners, with Petr Cech recently turning 35 and entering the last two years of his contract.
Arsenal will have to compete with Juventus, as the Old Lady have made it clear they think Szczesny can replace Gianluigi Buffon after he retires (this is expected to be his last year).
RB – Carl Jenkinson
If the club were lining up for a game, seeing Jenkinson’s name at the right-back position would make many fans cringe. However, for the purposes of this list, he will do just fine.
After coming through the youth ranks at Charlton Athletic, Carl Jenkinson signed for Arsenal in 2011. The defender made 57 appearances for the team in his first three years at the club before being loaned out to West Ham for two straight seasons.
He impressed at the Hammers so much that, after he returned from injury, Wenger kept him at the club.
Despite this faith, Jenkinson has been unable to recapture his form from West Ham, and seems destined to join the next name in Arsenal’s expiring contracts XI in moving away from North London.
CB – Mathieu Debuchy
Yeah, yeah I know; he’s not a central defender. However, with only one CB’s contract running out next summer, Debuchy will just have to play out of position.
The Frenchman joined Arsenal in the summer of 2014 from Newcastle United for around $15.5 million. This, of course, was before Hector Bellerin’s emergence as first-choice at right-back, but after Bacary Sagna left the club as a free agent.
So, at the time that price tag seemed much easier to swallow. But, we all know how the story went from there.
The young Spaniard displaced Debuchy in the pecking order, leading to a loan move to Bordeaux. Since his return, Mathieu Debuchy has been pressing for a move away from the Emirates, which, for some reason, has not happen for a year already.
CB – Per Mertesacker
The hulking German would have to work twice as hard with Debuchy as a partner, but we know Mertesacker would be happy to do so.
Per came to Arsenal from Werder Bremen in 2011 for $14.5 million to partner Laurent Koscielny. The two formed a solid partnership and helped to solidify a leaky back-four.
Overall the BFG has made 210 appearances in Arsenal red and even scored eight goals during his time at the club. Now 32 years old, and coming off a major leg injury which kept him out of all but two games last year, Mertesacker is already preparing for the next phase of his career.
Just the other day Arsenal announced they had agreed to hire Mertesacker as Academy Manager upon the completion of his contract next summer.
LB – Kieran Gibbs
Even though he joined Arsenal in 2004, he is somehow not the longest-serving player on this list. Kieran Gibbs made the move to Hale End from the Wimbledon Academy and made his first appearance in 2007.
After Gael Clichy moved to Manchester City in 2011, Gibbs became the main man at left-back for Arsenal. That is until Nacho Monreal joined from Malaga in 2013, after which Gibbs has found his opportunities limited.
For example, he has played two consecutive games for the team only once in the last eighteen months.
Grand total Kieran Gibbs has played 230 times for the Gunners, adding six goals, and three FA Cups. However, with Sead Kolasinac signing earlier this year, Gibbs is expected to leave the club this summer.
CM – Jack Wilshere
THE longest-tenured player in Arsenal’s expiring contracts XI is Jack Wilshere who joined as a youth player in 2001 when he was only 9. He is also the youngest player ever to wear the shirt, making his debut in 2008 at 16 years 256 days old.
He has also played for Bolton Wanderers (on-loan in 2010), and Bournemouth (on-loan for almost all of last year).
In all competitions Jack Wilshere has made 159 appearances, netting 12 goals. Aside from his stellar play on the field, Wilshere has also gained a reputation for being one of the more injury-prone Arsenal players, as indicated by his relatively low amount of game time.
Despite this fact, many fans are desperate to see him stay at the club, envisioning the 25-year-old as a club captain one day.
That is if he can stay healthy.
CM – Santi Cazorla
Santi Cazorla has been one of Arsenal’s best performers since joining from Malaga in the summer of 2012. He also holds the distinction of being Arsenal’s tenth most expensive signing ever, commanding a fee of $21 million.
The Spaniard has helped the Gunners win two of their most recent FA Cups, although did not participate in the 2017 competition due to a long-term injury.
Cazorla started as a winger, but as he has gotten older has adapted to playing as a deep-lying playmaker. He has become so proficient at the position that after his injury last October, the midfield simply never played as well again.
Santi is now 32 years old, and entering the last year of his deal, so there are questions as to how much longer he can play for. Another question that remains unanswered is when he will return from that beleaguering injury.
CAM – Mesut Özil
Playing as a number ten in Arsenal’s expiring contracts XI is their number 11, German playmaker Mesut Özil. The Gunners paid Real Madrid a then club record of $51.5 million to bring in the crafty midfielder, and the results have been stellar.
Mesut Özil also holds the distinction of being the most expensive German player ever signed.
Over his four years at the club, Özil has made 158 appearances, scored 32 goals and created 52 assists. His best year may have been 2015-16, where he grabbed 19 assists in the Premier League, only one off of Thierry Henry’s all-time record of 20.
He has also helped the team win three FA Cups, its only trophies since 2005.
Along with the striker on this list, he is the subject of mass speculation about his future this summer. However, interest in the playmaker is far less than Alexis, so there is a good chance he will ply his trade in North London next season.
RW – Joel Campbell
Forgot about Joel Campbell? It’s okay, I’m pretty sure even Arsene Wenger has.
The Costa Rican can play either as a winger, or a striker, and possesses both speed and strength. So in 2011 Arsenal jumped at the opportunity to sign the promising prospect.
However, even from the beginning, it seemed like the stars were aligning against Joel Campbell. He was denied a work visa after signing and couldn’t get his hands on one until 2013; two years after joining the team.
Campbell has had to endure five different loan spells during his career at Arsenal. First at Lorient, then at Real Betis and Olympiacos after that. Then it was off to Villareal before spending last year at Sporting Lisbon.
In fact, Joel Campbell has only appeared for Arsenal 40 times in his six years, netting just four goals.
I’m not holding my breath on a new contract.
LW – Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
The penultimate entry in Arsenal’s expiring contracts XI is the very versatile Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Wenger has asked the Ox to line-up not only on both wings, but also as a central midfielder, right wing-back, and even left wing-back in the 2017 FA Cup Final.
Alex signed for Arsenal from Southampton in August 2011 for something to the tune of $17 million. Although overall his time at the club has been successful, his debut came during the infamous 8-2 loss at Old Trafford.
Since then he has lifted three FA Cups, became the youngest English player to score in the Champions League, and is the second-youngest player to appear for England at the Euros.
He is still only 23, yet has made 194 appearances for the team, scoring 20 goals. Despite all this, Arsenal did not sign the Ox to a new deal yet, although are reportedly offering him a big raise to stay.
So hopes are high that Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will be an Arsenal man next year.
ST – Alexis Sanchez
Have you all heard that Alexis Sanchez is entering the last year of his contract at Arsenal? Or that Manchester City, Chelsea, and Bayern Munich are all interested? Didn’t think so.
While the above questions are meant to be rhetorical, the possibility of the Chilean leaving Arsenal feels very real. The team will not play in the Champions League next year and finished a whopping 18 points below Chelsea in last year’s Premier League.
The good news is that Arsenal are reportedly offering a pay raise. The reported figure is in the region of $385,000 per week (about $16 million per year). Hopefully, that’s an offer he can’t refuse.
Alexis has made 145 appearances for Arsenal, scoring 72 goals in all competitions. In fact, three of his four highest goal tallies have come for the Gunners; 30 last year, 17 the year before, and 25 in his maiden campaign.
Only time will tell where Sanchez will play next season.
Arsenal’s Expiring Contracts XI
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain-Mesut Ozil-Joel Campbell
Santi Cazorla-Jack Wilshere
Kieran Gibbs-Per Mertesacker-Mathieu Debuchy-Carl Jenkinson
So that’s the list of Arsenal’s Expiring Contracts XI. Make sure to comment who you want to stay, and who you want to see leave.
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