The Two Men at Arsenal Who Can Really Make a Difference

In the brave new world of Raul Sanllehi, no Arsenal player will be allowed to do an ‘Aaron Ramsey’ and leave for free after running down his contract, not unless he’s surplus to requirements or in the veteran stage of his career with no sell on value.
Sanllehi has already stated that contracts and players’ futures will be urgently dealt with when any player has only 2 years left on his deal, which basically means get them to sign or move them on depending on their value and age.
Therefore we should assume that the club is now seriously looking at the status of the guys whose contracts expire in 2021.


Using information from the excellent website we see that Arsenal have six players whose deals expire in 2021, namely Aubameyang, Nwakali, Sokratis, Ozil, Mkhitarayan and Mustafi. So if Sanllehi is as good as his word it’s logical that we should expect to see some movement on their contracts and decisions on their Arsenal futures this coming summer. Everybody has a view on these and our other players plus their value to our club but I’ll swerve that subject on this post and leave that for others to debate.

The job of negotiating contracts is the remit of Arsenal’s ‘contract supremo’ namely Hussain ‘Huss’ Fahmy.

Fahmy had previously been the Commercial and Business Affairs Director of Team Sky, so he has a wealth of experience at the top level to help him in this exacting role of dealing with agents and agreeing contract negotiations in the mad world of football.
Ivan Gazidis recruited Fahmy to take on this role as football contracts became more and more like a minefield, it’s a job for a specialist and hopefully Huss is one of those.

So far Huss has made a positive start in an area where previously Arsenal were lax, securing the futures of Nelson (2022), Amaechi (2022?), Chambers (2022), Holding (2023) and Xhaka (2023), not only securing their futures for the club, but also their value should the club decide to move them on?

This summer it’s too late for Aaron Ramsey, his future should have been addressed in the summer of 2017, why it wasn’t is for others to discuss and maybe justify.
But it wasn’t just the previous regime that failed in this area of football management, it’s happened to our club before namely the departures of Liam Brady in 1980 and Frank Stapleton in 1981, two players at the peak of their powers who left a gaping chasm in the Arsenal squad of its day.

When David Dein joined the Arsenal Board he referred to both Stapleton and Brady and the mismanagement that allowed them to leave so cheaply and that he wouldn’t let it happen again. He was as good as his word as Anelka to Real Madrid for a then enormous £23m proved, that money financed the arrival of Thierry Henry among others. Selling Overmars and Petit to Barcelona likewise financed other new additions to the club.
Being able to sell well is as important as buying well, especially if you are self sufficient, but all that ended when Dein was forced out by Fiszman and Hill Wood and from then on the contracts arena became less efficient until it reached a stage where we had Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil entering the last year of their deals, all that on the back of Walcott previously doing the same a few years beforehand.

What the Board, the CEO and the manager at the time were thinking is anybody’s guess, but that scenario really has to end and hopefully under Sanllehi and Fahmy it will..?!

Notwithstanding the guys whose deals expire in 2021, Fahmy also has to deal with those players whose deals end in 2020 (5 players) and 2019 (11 players)  – that is 16 players in total and a lot of work.

Besides Ramsey the others seeing their contracts expire this summer are: Suarez, Welbeck, Macey, Lichtsteiner, Jenkinson, Iliev, Bramall, Pleguezuelo, Cech and Monreal (I think that Arsenal can trigger another year on Monreal’s contract).

In 2020 it’s Bielik, Ospina, Asano, Koscielny and Emile Smith Rowe, Smith Rowe’s new deal must be a priority for Fahmy.

Just in case you’re wondering these are the deals that expire in 2022: Kolasinac, Elneny, Guendouzi, Iwobi, Lacazette, Martinez, Chambers, Nelson and Amaechi (?).

And in 2023 it’s: Leno, Holding, Mavropanos, Bellerin, Torrieira, Xhaka and Maitland-Niles..

By Allezkev

29 thoughts on “The Two Men at Arsenal Who Can Really Make a Difference

  • Well-analysed, excellent post, Kev. I reckon the most important thing to take in mind is that it takes two to tango. Nobody can force a player to sign a new contract or leave before the contract runs out, and players realise there is little risk in just seeing out a contract unless they get an offer they cannot refuse. Being a free agent means that you rather than your club will get the maximum money out of joining another club and the agents will make sure their clients know this. Ramsey played that game with us and I for one am not impressed with him. We paid him a lot of money over the years and except for one good, consistent season and a few cup final goals, he did never really carry the team, yet we carried him for years…

    I think you are right that the new guys will try their best to be proactive, and let’s hope they will be as successful as possible.

  • The vast majority of Arsenal’s youngsters have finished for the season and are either undergoing personal fitness training, heading off on holiday or are on international duty.

    For five members of the U23 squad, however, there is an opportunity that they could be involved in Arsenal’s biggest game of the season – the Europa League final.

    From this season teams are permitted to name 12 substitutes for the final as opposed to the usual seven, and, while it remains to be seen if Arsenal will make full use of this, it certainly seems that Unai Emery is planning to take a large squad to Azerbaijan.

    The continued involvement of Eddie Nketiah and Joe Willock in first-team training sessions comes as no surprise, with both players having been on the periphery of the squad of late.

    Given that Emery prefers to have three goalkeepers present for training sessions, it is also not a shock that Deyan Iliev has been kept behind to provide backup for Petr Cech and Bernd Leno.

    Arsenal also intervened to stop Bukayo Saka and Xavier Amaechi from being called up to the England U18 squad so that they could instead train with the first-team.

    Given the lack of wide options in the squad and the continued uncertainty over whether Henrikh Mkhitaryan will be able to travel to Baku, it makes sense for Saka and Amaechi, who have both excelled at U23 level this season, to be involved in some capacity.

    As things stand it seems likely that Nketiah, Willock, Amaechi, Saka and Iliev all have a good chance of being included in the travelling squad for the final.

    While getting onto the pitch is another matter entirely, just being involved with the squad would still be an excellent experience for these youngsters and would provide them with an extra incentive to succeed in the long term

  • Thanks Total, yes I agree you cannot force a player out if he is detirmined to see out his deal, but you shouldn’t let things drift and we have allowed things to drift in the past, I’m not blaming Wenger alone, Gazides, the Board, the Owner, they’re all culpable.

    Glad you enjoyed my scribble 🙂

  • Kev, definitely liked your ‘scribble’ 🙂

    Just not sure about the ‘drifting’ as I am not close enough to the people you mention to know for sure they are actually culpable. The players have enormous power now so I also believe that not much can be done if one or more of them decide to play a game with the club.

  • Interesting piece Kev– thanks.
    And I thought I’d seen those words you’d attributed to Raul sometime back (in March, actually):

    “Speaking to supporters on Sunday before the Manchester United game, Sanllehi discussed the contract situation at the club and vowed that Ramsey will be last player who will be allowed to leave for anything but his true value.
    And he then told the room that from now on, any player at Arsenal who doesn’t renew his contract and is entering the final two years of his current deal would be sold, unless they are at the end of their career so their value is relatively low.

    That means that in the summer, decisions must be taken on Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Mesut Ozil, Sokratis, Shkodran Mustafi and Henrikh Mkhitaryan, who all have contracts which are due to expire in 2021.”
    (Football London)

    Looks like a tough Summer for Raul and Vinai.
    Auba extended seems a no-brainer.
    I’d resign Sokratis (good early-on paired with Holding).
    Mhki looks like a tough sell at rated value– and too expensive to keep.
    No one except China will take-on Ozil’s pay packet (So extend him?. Mesut’s rated value has dropped from £40M to £31M in a year).
    Mustafi will be the one that makes Raul break his word. Arsenal aren’t getting that £34M we spent– nor the £27M he’s rated currently (The slippery way out of this one is a rumored loan to Inter. I’m almost ready to crowdfund the buyout clause and gift him to Ivan).

    Sanllehi will find the going hard to abide those promises this Summer.
    He had a hand in all of those player’s current deals– except Mustafi’s.*
    Raul simply doesn’t have a strong hand to play these next few months.


    *Raul didn’t sign-on officially until Feb 1st 2018– but his fingerprints were all over the Alexis-Mkhi swap, the Auba buy, and subsequent OK of Ozil’s new pay packet.

  • Great post!

    First, TA, I totally forgot we get “new signings” Bellerin and Holding next season. That’ll help.

    Economics: I’m a bit with TA, players have more power now, but later. Earlier clubs can sell. So, it’s all about, to me, **relative** value. What’re they worth to you vs what’re they worth to someone else. The examples of Petit, Overmars are cases where they were worth more perhaps to others, and good deals were done(?). Sometimes, say Holding or Aubameyang even, they are worth more to us than to many likely suitors.

    In that vein, ARs value was higher to Juve given what they paid him, then to us likely. So, we **should have sold** a year or so back.

    IMO, the key is knowing what you believe value is (easy part tho hotly debated) and then being utterly cold blooded about it (easier part that looks hard). Of course, real profit comes when one side gets its valuation wrong… Sometimes you never know (who knew Thierry would be who he became) but often there are clues (Hleb?)

    Just some thoughts to ponder. As always we will see…

    Cheers — jgc

  • Kev, nice research stuff. I privately believe that the reason Wenger’s contract was terminated had a lot to do with the players’ contracts mess. I must admit however it’s never an easy task. It’s like tight rope walking. On one side is the threat of losing a player for free and on the othet side is overpadding of the wage that makes the player unsellable. Well they are paid so well for that job that they should be able to walk that tight rope.

    A couple of seasons back, the Napoli President was asked if he would sell his best player. His answer was that if the price was good he would sell the whole team. Very smart. Sell well, buy well and you are better off. If we seĺl Auba and buy Messi, you wouldnt find me complaining.

  • Thanks JW, good comment.

    Geoff, what a shame ☹️ – that is so annoying.

    Cheers PE, also the empty seats, it’s all about the public image in these days of ‘the product’…

    Total, I get what you’re saying, I really do and many more clubs today are suffering from players running down contracts, Wenger even predicted as much a few years ago, but maybe (just maybe) our problem was not addressing the contract situation of players early enough, when you let a player go into his final year then running down his deal seems a far more attractive proposition, but with two years to go, the possibility of an injury and a greedy agent, I think it’s more likely that a club will get more traction.

  • Kev, I agree that two years before contract end is a good time to get a player’s situation sorted, even though for a club or manager this could mean letting very important players leave and with that risking a big hole in the team that cannot be filled easily. That is why it is important to have a ‘football systems manager’ at the club: one who works with the whole squad and makes everybody play one or more positions with a clear (and successful) system of football. That way there are better nr.2s available for a departing leaver (or a long term injury). Van Gaal in the old days at Ajax was a master of this, and now Klopp and Guardiola are also able to deal well with loss of players within the team through their systematic approach to the game and getting the whole squad to understand it.

  • Maybe, the increasing popularity of running down contracts by players is having a downward pressure on the cost of players as the payments shift from clubs to individuals. All the crazy sums must be bubbles destined to bust sooner or later.

  • Further fine comments by Geoff, Eris and PE, all adding value to the debate.

    I would like to know what our CaliMexican Gooner thinks of all of this?! 17ho where are you?

    And where are my old time friends HeheheHenry, our man from New York, Buster spelled backwards, AB etc… Let’s be having you! 🙂

  • You want to know what I think, TA?… 😀 No, I’m pretty sure you don’t… 😦

    I think that I’m quite impressed by those who can find ways to maintain an interest in our “self-sustaining” club. (In other words, well done, Kev, for writing the post…and keep ’em coming…) Despite the embrace of the rhetoric coming from Raul and Huss–and critics of the previous (one man?…) regime, I’m (far?…) less troubled by the machinations of our “marquee” players trying to get themselves onto big contracts. Fans (like me…) want to see the highly rated players play. If they can get themselves a big contract, why shouldn’t they? They’re not slaves after all… To me, it seems the duty of (top level) managers, to (somehow) integrate the big money players into a cohesive team dynamic in order to produce the best results. Hint: it’s not done by benching them or leaving them completely out of “tough, away matches.” In fact, maybe if we had gotten a point or two more from those sorts of matches, we might not be sweating about the result in the toughest, most away of them all (in Baku)…On that note, that was a nice post too, TA. I guess I took the weekend off from all things football. (Sorry…) Was there an FA cup final that got played or did they just hand FC Abu Dhaby a(nother) trophy?…

    I guess I’m more into the basketball and even the golf despite those comps (also…) being runaways… (Did JW and I miss a bit of banter from the previous round? Ah well, at least he’s still got Mustafi… 😉 Arsenal’s own version of Kevin Durant? Not quite, I fear/concur….)

    Back to our tales of money wasted… I’d be remiss if I didn’t remind people that (one) Arsene Wenger is still under contract at Arsenal. He’ll find (yet) another few hundred thousand quid in his account this coming Friday. Finally, at the end of the month, the paydays will end. How he’d have done as our (actual) manager this season we’ll never know… Back in 2016 when City and Liverpool (and Totts?…) were “transitioning” and (somehow…) Chelsea and ManU were also playing poorly, AW “let” Leicester win the league. Could he (with the same “support” from the fan-base, of course) done better than Emery this season? Despite paying them both, we’ll never know? Emery, of course, has more “up-side” and surely, after he gets his players in and has a few years coaching them we’ll be up there with the City’s and Pool’s…or even Spurs… Time is on our (or his…) side…

    Back to the present (and the season almost completed) and we must (however…) give credit to Emery for finding a way out of the domestic cups. Though we “beat” Watford–on the road, albeit with a bundled goal and then held on for 80+ mins with them a Deeney down–I’m not sure we would’ve done much better against ManCity in the FA Cup final. Thank goodness we didn’t have to pretend we could. I like our chances a bit better in Baku, although I wonder about the desperation of that Chelsea team. Does Sarri keep his job (even if they win, even though they’ve already secured CL football?…) Aren’t guys like Hazard, Giroud, Higuain, and Pedro (and other continental types like Azpilicueta and Marcos Alonzo) going to be salivating playing against our defenders and hoping a golazo or two might be their ticket out of (South) London?… (And couldn’t their Oily-Garch, Abramovic just give Cech a retirement payoff to have him slip in a couple?…) For both teams, an already too-long season gets even longer…

    But a winner must be crowned, and if it’s Arsenal, then all is good in this world…

    Or not. Back in 2006, after our Spud-sy trip to Paris, and with the economy booming and Arsenal entering our own bright and shiny (and actually “new”) stadium, we thought that we had arrived among the European elite. Clearly, we’ve gone the other direction (our own Ars-exit, perhaps) and we are absolutely NOT trying to compete with the top teams. Hell, we’re only the 4 or 5th team in the Emirates (Airlines) fleet. We are Spurs, but only worse… (though we can take solace in taking four points from six from them in the league, let’s not discuss their beating us at home in the league cup, however…) Even their manager speaks better English than ours… Maybe we need to switch shirt sponsors, surely Bovril or Tetley on our kits could help pay a few (of our U-13s) players…

    No, we just have to buckle down on those players of ours (and their contracts) if they think they’re too good for our club. With the Kroenke teams being MUCH closer to the top in US sports (American football runners-up, Basketball and Hockey final eight and only game 7s from final four) I just can’t see us spending extra to compete with the Oilygarchs and other owners with, you know, a “sporting interest” in their clubs. So, over to you Raul…or Huss. Bean-counting IS the future at Arsenal.

    Sorry folks (Kev esp., and hopefully he knows that I’m being overly harsh here and that I too, if local, would probably take a keen interest in our academy up and comers)… It’s just that it all seems a bit grim, Like TA (sorta, kinda) noted (previous post…), global decisions have local effects… OK, off to try and keep moving on that property that’ll likely get drowned (or blown completely off the map) in the coming hurricane season…

    Happy Monday…

  • Yeah HT– if we still have Mustafi on the roster in September?
    I may have to find another team, in another league, to bandwagon on.
    Can certainly handle futility (from 2011-14, our Astros lost 416 baseball games)– until a team improves (Astros were World Champs in 2017).

    An altogether different matter? Tolerating stupidity.
    If Arsenal– (are stupid enough to) keep and play a player who singularly wrecked the club’s CL chances? I’ll watch another club until they ship him out.

    Had Arsenal sold him last Summer (as I’d railed for)– even for a cut-rate £20M? By dint of the 7 points he gifted this season? The club would have made at least another £40M with a CL spot.

    Together– £65M and a Champions League place. Right now? Sounds pretty good– yes?
    Sometimes– there is little joy in being right.


  • For the transfer situation, it is not the same now as compared to 10 years ago. The players have more “needs” and “wants”. They do not want to stay at the same club forever, so no more one-club man.

    If Ozil continues his tactics (or his spoiled agent) this time round he will be sold next year. Or will he wait such a long time? I suspect Auba will jump at the opportunity to get a new deal with a substantial increase in pay. If not we will see him gone as well.

    The kids should stay at any given opportunity. We have seen a few good kids leaving due to the lack of playing time, but that is something unsurprising. We cannot have 100 players in the team, can we?

    Anyway, it’s decided that I am coming to London in October (second to third week). And I heard that the weather will be a cooling 10-16 degrees Celsius. What kind of activity is good to do there in this weather? Maybe the well-travelled Kev can advise me on this. And I hope to catch a match at Emirates when I am there. Is it easy to get tickets on the fly?


  • 84, depends on your interests, there’s something for everyone in London.

    As for match day tickets, ring the Arsenal supporters club, explain your situation and that your visiting London and ask if they can help?
    Tickets from them would be face value in my experience.

  • It’s good to see Emery taking so many young players out to Baku.
    If I have one criticism of him from this past season it’s his reluctance to trust our young players, with the notable exception of Guendouzi.

    Saka might only be 17/18 but he has the quality to be a real impact player off of the bench and certainly more so than some of the guys Emery used this season.

    With John Jules and Amaechi hesitating over contract extensions it’s never been more the case of ‘use them or lose them’ next season.

  • Kev, he plays the youngsters in the Carling cup and the UEFA cup.
    This season he had the fringe players and the whole squad to work with, and he gave those fringe players like Elneny and Jenko game time and chances to stake their claim in the first team, thus he gave some youngsters more game time than others.

    With the team mostly settled he will have his favoured players to choose from.

    And the youngsters that you had mentioned will either have a role to play in the first team next season or sent out on loan to be available for the following season.

  • Le Coq did well in the Valencia vs Barca match to win 2-1.
    We made a mistake in letting him leave the Gunners.

  • Hey fellas. Been a while; I have had a bit on my plate the last few days but will usually take a peak here, every once in a while.

    It’s a big da6 for the boys tomorrow and I’ve seen some headlines which are intended to rattle the players a bit. Good thing they are in intense preparations in Baku and hopefully, won’t pay too much attention to these articles.

    Not sure how much time I’ll have to participate tomorrow, so here’s wishing the boys a great outing and win. COYG!

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