With summer approaching, this means that certain players are free to switch clubs if their current contract expires. All Premier League players sign deals that technically run from July to June of every year. This means that any player that is now in their final year of contract can officially leave their club on July 1st. Some players will have their next destination lined up months in advance and some will sort out their upcoming move in the summer.
Arsenal, in particular, only has one senior player that will see their contract expire this summer: David Luiz. While Luiz is running down his current deal, there have been rumors that the former Brazil international could sign a new one-year contract extension to keep him at the Emirates until the summer of 2022. Although this remains to be seen, this is also a good time to look ahead to this summer of 2022.
Alexandre Lacazette, Eddie Nketiah, Calum Chambers, Mohamed Elneny, and Dejan Iliev are all currently signed until 2022. Lacazette is obviously the most important player of the quintet and also the most valuable asset to the team. With only one year remaining on a valuable player’s contract, it makes the most sense to either re-sign him or sell them to another team, rather than potentially lose them for free. The Gunners will have a tough decision on Lacazette in particular.
Since arriving to north London from Lyon in 2017, the Frenchman has been a decent signing. His hefty $58 million transfer fee complicates discussions by Arsenal fans whether or not Lacazette was worth the price. Nevertheless, the striker has been a solid goalscorer, a leader, a hard worker, as well as a big game player. In fact, his production during big matches is even better than fellow teammate Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. While Lacazette’s 61 goals and 28 assists in 161 total games for Arsenal is not exactly mind-blowing, it’s, once again, decent.
Arsenal have a recent history of having to make big decisions regarding aging stars. The Gunners made the decision to sell Robin van Persie and Alexis Sanchez to rivals Manchester United when both players were in the final year of their respective contracts in 2012 and 2018 (one worked out, one did not). They also chose to re-sign the then 29-year-old Mesut Ozil to a mammoth deal in 2018, only for it to backfire and it remains to be seen how the Aubameyang re-signing will pan out.
Giving ‘older’ players a new multi-year contract is certainly a risky decision in sports. Clubs, however, should look to pay players for what they think they will do in the future, rather than rewarding one of their stars for what they have done in the past. With Lacazette set to turn 30 in May, manager Mikel Arteta needs to determine what he thinks his Frenchman is capable of accomplishing for his club in his 30’s.
If Arsenal chooses to sell Lacazette this summer, there most likely won’t be a shortage of suitors. Atletico Madrid, Roma, and Sevilla are already reportedly lining up potential bids for the striker. Arteta and company could also offer Lacazette a one-year contract extension as sort of a stopgap solution (much like the aforementioned Luiz situation), assuming their striker search does not pan out as expected.
Lacazette still obviously has value. He’s a solid Premier League player. However, it may be time for Arsenal to look for a younger center forward to lead their front line. The north London club’s defense and midfield is looking fairly solid for the near future, so the main transfer focus this summer could be up front.
Author: Chris Moore