So last night the Guardian reported that Bacary Sagna is unhappy with the contract extension on offer and could leave Arsenal in the summer despite his contract running through summer 2014:
Concerns over his long-term fitness are understood to have influenced the club's thinking in offering a 12-month deal to extend his current contract, which expires in the summer of 2014.The 30-year-old, who featured in Tuesday's defeat to Bayern Munich but is a doubt for Saturday's visit of Aston Villa in the Premier League, had hoped to secure longer terms but, with the offer submitted, is now privately resigned to leaving the club at the end of the campaign...
What shall we make of this article? Well, the Guardian used to have a much better reputation overall than it currently does as far as this type of rumor goes, and there are no direct quotes from the player or from Arsene Wenger in the article aside from Wenger talking about Sagna's determination:
"He has criticised his own form recently but the things you never question from Bacary are his commitment, his mental attitude, his desire to win and his intelligence," said Wenger. "If he has not been playing as he would expect, it is down to his injury. It takes time to come back, and he has played through a lot of pain – in fact, he is one of the strongest players I have met when it comes to doing that.
If, as the article states, scouts are already looking for a replacement right back, then things may genuinely be in motion. We also know that Arsenal have a reluctance/refusal to offer anything more than one-year deals to players over 30--Sagna just turned thirty a week ago--and that makes this particular rumor a bit more believable.
There is also growing sentiment amongst much of the supporter base that Sagna's best years are behind him and that his form is seriously lacking at the moment. While Wenger suggests that is due to the two leg breaks Sagna suffered recently, it is also becoming apparent that Sagna's tremendous fitness and pace are in decline. He put in an excellent shift centrally against Sunderland two weekends ago, a position that demands less pace and stamina to get up and down the pitch on overlapping runs, and indeed, we suggested that he might have a future at that position, but Arsenal are unlikely to restructure their central defense around a converted right back. Sagna also has not always been the most reliable attacking force; while capable of good overlapping runs, he rarely puts in an effective cross, although his interplay with Theo Walcott has been acceptable most of the time. Lately, however, he's more likely to stay back as Kieran Gibbs advances up the left.
A lot would depend, of course, on whom Arsenal target to bring in to replace Sagna. Carl Jenkinson, of course, is already at the club, and has shown flashes, but he's only 21 years old. The club have him tied down to a long-term deal, too, so bringing in a more experience player to continue to mentor PFC Jenkinson while he improves would be ideal.
What do you all make of this rumor? Are there any right backs that you'd like to see come in?