I don’t need to tell you who the most important player entering their 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.
It turns out there are a total of 12 players who have logged significant minutes with Arsenal, so one will get left out in the cold (at least for the purposes of this list).
GK – Petr Cech
Cech, the Czech shot-stopper, joined the Gunners from cross-town rivals Chelsea in the summer of 2015. He was not a typical Wenger signing, as he was already 33 when he signed, which is about 13 years older than our man Arsene usually likes his players.
However, Cech’s signing still made waves with the fans, as ever since Jens Lehman‘s departure the Arsenal net had been notoriously open for business. The $13 million man has plugged that German-sized hole admirably, and won an FA Cup for his troubles.
With only one year left on his deal, and already aged 35, the question may not be if the club can keep him, bu rather how much longer will Petr Cech‘s career be?
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 on the list on his way out of the club.
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 8 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 July 1.
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 Geal Clichy moved to Man 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 on the list 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 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 (just like with Petr Cech) 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 Ozil
Playing as a number ten in this list is Arenal’s number 11, the German playmaker Mesut Ozil. 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 Ozil also holds the distinction of being the most expensive German player ever signed.
Over his four years at the club Ozil 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, it’s only trophies since 2005.
Along with the striker on this list, he is 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, Olympiacos after that, then 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 4 goals.
I’m not holding my breath on a new contract.
LW – Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
The penultimate entry on the list 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 sign for Arsenal from Southampton in August 2011 for something to the tune of $17 million. Although overall his time at the team 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 Man 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 whipping 18 points below Chelsea in last year’s Premier League.
The good news is that Arsenal are reportedly offering a stupidly high salary 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
Lucas Perez-Mesut Ozil-Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
Santi Cazorla-Jack Wilshere
Kieran Gibbs-Per Mertesacker-Mathieu Debuchy-Carl Jenkinson
GK – Wojciech Szczesny
Well there’s no room on the field for poor 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 year 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).
So that’s the list of Arsenal’s Expiring Contracts XI (plus an honorable mention).
Who do you think will re-sign with the Gunners? Who do you think the team will sell? Will Arsenal force Alexis Sanchez to play out his final year?
Let me know in the comments below