The Times is reporting (behind a paywall) that Arsenal will not hold further contract renewal talks with its two most high-profile players - German World Cup winning playmaker Mesut Ozil and Chilean Copa America champion Alexis Sanchez - until the end of the season, with efforts to this point having made little progress. The Times is reporting that the club were keen to sign these two key players to extensions before they entered the final two years of their current contracts, and that £160k a week was on offer for each to convince them to stay. Apparently, according to Matt Hughes, they have decided to wait to see if we hold on to our firm but still tenuous grip on Champions League football for next year before deciding on their futures.
If this is true, it could be a huge blow for Arsenal. Alexis has provided 14 goals and 9 assists in all competitions this year despite spending a long period injured. Mesut Ozil, meanwhile, has had a stellar season, providing 8 goals and 18 assists in all competitions this year.
I am no expert in reading the tea leaves of these stories, but luckily Arseblog has provided a thorough analysis of the situation, and has concluded that Matt Hughes "exclusive" is likely a non-story designed to take advantage of the woes of Arsenal fans. As Arseblog writes, in the past six month both Ozil and Arsene Wenger have indicated there's no great hurry and that the matter will be taken up at the end of the season. Arseblog provides these quotes in support:
"At the end of the year, they have two-and-a-half years left on their contract so we still have some time. We are not in a hurry. Of course, we want them to stay here at the club and we will start the negotiations at some stage. At the moment we have not started them. From the New Year to the summer we will certainly start it [talks] with all the players who have two years to go at the end of the season."
Wenger on Ozil & Sanchez contracts, 19 November 2015
"My contract runs until 2018, that is for another two and a half years. There is no need to hurry. There are no talks at the moment but I can only say that I am very happy in London and that my decision to come here from Real Madrid was the right one."
Mesut Ozil on his contract, 22 December 2015
"We’ll deal with that later in the season. At the moment we focus more on the present. We’ll deal with that around May."
Wenger on Ozil & Sanchez contracts, 23 December 2015
"Yes, I am confident [they will sign new deals]. Yes, they have a two-year contract left and there’s been nothing done yet. They look happy, when I talk to them they are happy and they want to extend their contracts so I don’t think it is a problem. That will be done in the break, in the summer."
Wenger on Ozil & Sanchez contracts, 2 April 2016
While it's possible that this year's disappointing campaign could influence the future decisions of these two incredibly important and well-loved players for the Gunners, I have to agree with Arseblog. This is clickbait opportunism designed to prey on Arsenal fans' disappointment in the club and little more than that.