The best start to a season we have enjoyed in the top flight – I hope we’re all enjoying it?
The seeds have been sewn by Mikel Arteta and Edu, trusting in the youth of the club and recruiting wisely with young, hungry players who desire success.
Mixed with a splash of experience and a winning mentality in the form of perennial trophy winners at City – Jesus and Zinchenko – we have a squad that looks well-prepped to push on and re-establish our club near the top of the tree again.
But there’s always something to keep our eyes on, a dangerous piece of the puzzle that if left unchecked, could wreak massive damage to the well-oiled machine that has been so painstakingly constructed.
This time around it isn’t players in the dressing room, disrupting the equilibrium.
It’s contracts – tying down those players who will be the fulcrum of any attempt at long-term success.
William Saliba, Bukayo Saka and Gabi Martinelli, three players who are providing fuel to our engines as we continue to defy critics.
Saka has somehow avoided the drop in form that most youth players get after ‘bursting onto the scene.’ The Hale End graduate has been perhaps our most important player since that season and in this current campaign? He is the outlet in our attack that yields results.
William Saliba has been an utter sensation. The player who was voted Ligue Un Young Player of the Year last season in his loan stint with Marseille has evidence that he is not a flash in the pan. Now in the full French squad and also shutting out the best the Premier League has to offer, Saliba is being courted reportedly by clubs with resources to make you blush.
Some reports state that Saliba is still aggrieved by Arteta’s apparent lack of faith, farming him out on three loan moves before finally making his Arsenal bow this season. Other reports say he is very happy in North London – and why wouldn’t he be? An established starter, he is getting the recognition his talent deserves and if Arsenal make the Champions League, he will be playing on all the big stages.
Then there is Martinelli. Touted by rival coaches, Martinelli showed flashes of his potential in previous seasons, but this present season has seen the young Brazilian nail down a spot and make it very hard for anyone else to come close. He has bedazzled, his lightning feet have made openings in games where there shouldn’t have been any. His skill has been matched only by his bravery in committing defenders.
And all three players are well overdue a payrise.
Looking at the current pay structure, Gabriel Jesus and Thomas Partey lead the way in weekly salaries. Overlooking the stupendous figures, these players would command this or perhaps more elsewhere, so the going rate dictates the sum.
And that being the case, Saka, Saliba and Martinelli can go to the negotiating table with plenty of leverage.
Could you argue that these three players have been as important as Jesus and Partey this season?
And here’s the real kicker – could they push the point that they will represent the future fortunes of the club, given Partey and Jesus are years older than them?
Here is the current structure for the first team squad:
Name Age Annual Weekly
Gabriel Jesus 25 £13,780,000 £265,000
Thomas Partey 29 £10,400,000 £200,000
Oleksandr Zinchenko 25 £7,800,000 £150,000
Ben White 24 £6,240,000 £120,000
Kieran Tierney 25 £5,720,000 £110,000
Granit Xhaka 30 £5,200,000 £100,000
Gabriel Martinelli 21 £4,680,000 £90,000
Martin Ødegaard 23 £4,110,000 £79,038
Cedric Soares 31 £3,900,000 £75,000
Aaron Ramsdale 24 £3,220,000 £61,923
Takehiro Tomiyasu 23 £2,910,000 £55,962
Albert Sambi Lokonga 22 £2,700,000 £51,923
Mohamed Elneny 30 £2,600,000 £50,000
Gabriel Magalhães 24 £2,600,000 £50,000
Fábio Vieira 22 £2,360,000 £45,385
Edward Nketiah 23 £2,340,000 £45,000
Rob Holding 27 £2,080,000 £40,000
William Saliba 21 £2,080,000 £40,000
Matt Turner 28 £1,820,000 £35,000
Bukayo Saka 21 £1,560,000 £30,000
Emile Smith Rowe 22 £1,040,000 £20,000
Reiss Nelson 22 £780,000 £15,000
Certainly in Saka and Saliba’s case, they will know that if they don’t earn parity with the club’s top earners, they can get that and more elsewhere.
And Arsenal will know it too.
The sooner these three are tied down to long term contracts, the sooner the club can continue to focus on a concerted approach toward European and domestic trophies as a regularity, rather than a pipe dream.
And make no mistake, without these three young players, we will be going back plenty of steps in the process.
How difficult would it be to replace them? Given their age, growth and talent? Almost impossible.
The money we would fork out in doing so would dwarf the sum needed to give them the wages they warrant.
Fingers crossed, their new contracts are announced quickly. The longer it goes on, the bigger the window there is to be tempted by external lucre.
The ball is very much in Arsenal’s court on this one.