Arsenal are preparing to offer new, improved contracts to a trio of key players, according to a report from Jamie Sanderson. In an attempt to keep them from following in the footsteps of other contract malcontents, Arsene Wenger wants to lock up Bacary Sagna, Kieran Gibbs, and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain on long-term deals now, rather than waiting until he has to.
Sagna and Gibbs are Arsenal's starting fullbacks and look to hold their position (contract situations and health willing) for a long time. The OC, on the other hand, is only just beginning to grow into an expanded role with Arsenal, but after a summer in which he saw real playing time for England at a major tournament, he's appeared in two of three games for Arsenal, playing most of the game after starting against Liverpool at Anfield this past weekend.
In other words, these are three players who appear to be worth the outlay, and Wenger is ready to commit to them, if they are prepared to commit to him as others have not of late.
Both fullbacks have more than two years left on their current contracts, but while they haven't yet opened negotiations, neither have instructed their representation to open channels with other clubs, and both seem open to staying at Arsenal long-term. Oxlade-Chamberlain has three years left on his deal (including this one), but Arsenal want to reward him for a somewhat unexpectedly good 2011-12 campaign with gobs of money.
This is great business from Arsenal, depending on the terms of the contracts. Sagna is one of the most reliable and best fullbacks in all of Europe, and though he's now broken a leg twice in a year, he's traditionally been a safe bet on the right side. Gibbs is notably injury-prone, but late last season and early on in this one, he's shown us all why Wenger sold Gael Clichy to open a spot for him (and why he's kept that spot through the injuries). Never forget that he made the tackle that sealed Champions League participation for this season - that alone is not a reason to pay a player, but it's a nice bonus, and something we should all remember. The OC, along with Jack Wilshere (hopefully) could be a big part of the backbone of Arsenal (and England) for the next decade or so, and anything that can be done to ensure that happening is okay by me.
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