Before I start I want to make some things very clear: I’m not asking for anyone to leave, I’m not saying that I know there will be a clear out, and I’m not saying that I hate anyone. I’m also not publishing this article in order to say “so and so is shit” or that I know better than anyone else what is going on behind the scenes at Arsenal. What else will I be accused of… Oh yeah, I’m not “going negative” or joining the “Wenger out” brigade or whatever end of whatever other dualism I get accused of week in and week out.*
The intent of this article is simply to provide information and to give some context to discussions that Arsenal supporters have been having in various places on the internet.
As some of you may know I am scheduled to appear on the next episode of the Arsenal Review USA Podcast. What you don’t know is that in that episode I fielded a question of whether or not I felt like a clear out of players was imminent this Summer and my answer was “sort of”. Listen to the podcast and you’ll see why I’m publishing this as a back-up to that appearance.
Another bit of information that ties into what I want to say about player transfers is in The Swiss Ramble’s excellent piece on Arsenal’s mid-year profit report. In that piece he outlines two problem areas for Arsenal in terms of finances: commercial deals and player salaries.
Commercial deals are not my specialty and I don’t want to get too detailed into that because it’s really something that Gazidis should have been working on for his entire tenure at Arsenal. That he has failed so spectacularly is a combination of his hands being tied and possibly a lack of creativity, though a real assessment of his job performance is up to the board. From my end, I have offered Arsenal the idea of selling the naming rights to London Colney, which is about all I can do.
I also don’t have any control over player movement and as stated earlier in my preamble, I’m not suggesting who should move rather suggesting who could be moved. To that end, what I wanted to do was provide a list of all the players under contract to Arsenal (including loanees) and then list the ones who are out of contract this Summer, the ones who I feel are “on the bubble” in terms of their playing careers at Arsenal, and the ones who are almost certainly going to stay.
Here’s the official list of all the players at Arsenal, submitted to the Premier League on February 1, 2012:
Clarindo Dos Santos, Andre
Arteta Amatriain, Mikel
Diaby, Vassiriki Abou
Djourou-Gbadjere, Johan Danon
Yao, Gervais Kouassi
Gibbs, Kieran James Ricardo
Park, Chu Young
Song Bilong, Alexandre Dimitri
Van Persie, Robin
Walcott, Theo James
(First team players, not listed above, and on loan)
(Players not listed above but still under contract)
Unlimited U-21 Players
Alves da Silva, Wellington
Aneke, Chukwuemeka Ademola Amachi
Angha, Martin Yves
Ansah, Zak Andy
Campbell, James Andrew
Charles-Cook, Reice Jordan
Eastmond, Craig Leon
Ebecilio, Kyle Stephen Joel
Fagan, Zachari Freddy Casey
Frimpong, Emmanuel Yan
Glasgow, Benjamin Luke
Gnabry, Serge David
Hayden, Isaac Scot
Henderson, Conor Alan
Hoyte, Gavin Andrew
Jeffrey, Anthony Lamar Malcolm
Jenkinson, Carl Daniel
Lansbury, Henri George
Martinez, Damain Emiliano
Meade, Jernade Ronnel
Monteiro, Elton Almada
Murphy, Rhys Philip Elliot
Oldfield Spence-Neita, Nigel Paul
Olsson, Mats Kristoffer
Oxlade-Chamberlain, Alexander Mark David
Ramsey, Aaron James
Rees, Joshua David
Roberts, Philip James
Szczesny, Wojciech Tomasz
Watt, Herschel Oulio Sanchez
Wilshere, Jack Andrew
Wynter, Jordan James Cecil
Several notes about this list. First, you will see that players like Vito Mannone are included in the first team list but are on loan. Arsenal do this because he is Home Grown and they have open spots in that category. That allows them to recall him from loan and slot him right back into the first team in an emergency.
You will also see a similar thing in the U-21 players. Since Arsenal can have an unlimited number of U-21 players on the official team there’s no harm in listing loanees like Kyle Bartley.
Second, I highlighted in bold any of the first team players who are either on loan out, in the last year of their contract, or have returned to their main team (Henry).
And third, you should notice that Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain has what could possibly be the longest name in footballing history: Alexander Mark David Oxlade-Chamberlain.
Finally, I don’t really want to dip into the U-21 players list too much, simply because if there is uncertainty about the first team that uncertainty is magnified when it comes to U-21 players. Still I can’t see Arsenal pulling several of the players on that list back into the first team side when they have struggled to get games at teams like West Ham (Lansbury). Yes, I know this will anger many of you because he scored that one goal in the Carling Cup North London Derby and jumped REALLY high. But even die-hard fans of players like Bartley have to admit that it’s not looking like he’ll be back with the team when the club hand Djourou a £50,000/wk contract and he’s still languishing in Scotland. I have highlighted in bold the players above who I am certain will be promoted to the first list when they are over 21.
Defining “out of contract” is simple, these are players whom I am factually certain (as of publication) will be out of contract in Summer of 2012.
“On the Bubble” means players whom I feel like have an uncertain future at Arsenal. This could be because they are following the Senderos path out of the club via multiple extensive loans or because chronic injury has hampered their career. I suspect this is where I will get the most complaints/discussion.
“Certainly staying” are the guys who have just renegotiated a contract with the club or whom I deem too valuable to leave just yet. It’s basically all the rest of the players who aren’t in the first two categories, so I’m not going to list that.
With that out of the way, here are my three lists:
Out of contract Summer 2012
Players “On the Bubble”
U-21 Players “On the Bubble”
For my count, that is 17 players who Arsenal could realistically clear out this Summer. Given Wenger’s history I can see him throwing a life-line to Diaby (who is under contract until 2014, just like Theo and RvP, though no one mentions it) and offering Rosicky a one-year deal.
But the rest of those players have to be wondering about their future at Arsenal. Bartley has been in Scotberia his entire career. Lansbury can’t get a look in at West Ham. Eastmond dropped out of Milwall. Wenger’s most memorable statement about Vela was that he “always forgets about Vela”. Park and Chamakh can’t even get on the bench for games. Arshavin is back in Russia. Despite being a winner, Denilson has struggled in Brazil. Bendtner burned the bridge, pissed on it, then planted the Bendtner coat of arms on the other side. I think we saw the last of Squillaci when he huffed off down the tunnel after just 43 minutes against Sunderland with an “injury”. And Almunia is so far down the list of players, that he doesn’t even make the 25 man squad — in his place? Loanee/legend Thierry Henry.
I don’t know what you call it, but that looks like the makings of a good ole fashioned clear-out to me.
*It’s always hilarious to me to be accused of one side of a dualism one day and the next the next. It’s almost as if people can’t see that the problem is not with me but with the definitions they are carrying around in their heads.
P.S. I don’t know why I thought Squillaci was out of contract this Summer but I did. The dot.com indicates that he signed a “long term contract” with the club in 2010. Judging by other players who have signed “long term contracts” with Arsenal, this could be as long as six years, though is more likely closer to five years. That means he might not be out of contract until 2015/2016, which would, I suspect, solidify him as Arsene Wenger’s worst ever signing.