According to John Cross of Daily Mirror and “I Wrote a Book About Arsène Wenger” fame, Alexis Sánchez and Mesut Özil are teaming up to receive contracts in excess of £350k per week. My expert opinion: that’s a lot of money, folks.
The report basically states what we all know, Alexis and Mesut have the club over the barrel. What we didn’t really know, but probably should have assumed, is that the pair are using each other’s contract negotiation to get the best deal possible. They know Arsenal have retained the services of Wenger, presumably not to rebuild again, but to challenge for a Premier League title. There is little chance of the Gunners doing that if they lose one or both of their attacking talismans.
The article hints that the club are closer to coming to an agreement with Özil, as it actually states that there is a large contract offer on the table for him. For Alexis, it states that he’s willing to play out his contract here and then move to another big club when his deal expires next May.
If this article is truthful, which, considering the source isn’t guaranteed, this is something the club simply must do. If Arsenal want to compete for a league title, they need to supplement their star power, not liquidate it. Renewing the contracts of Alexis and Mesut has to be #1 on the club’s to-do list this offseason.
Paying both of them that type of money would not come without side effects, though. As I’ve mentioned before, the Gunners will need to make tough decisions to comply with recent Premier League wage bill regulations. With the numbers given by Cross, the two stars alone would lead to a £22m increase to the wage bill.
The club may not like it, but it’s one side-effect to last season’s malaise and an under-considered impact of missing the Champions League. Sure, Champions League isn’t the end all for recruiting or retaining talent, but it does up the price. If the Gunners want to get back in with the elite of European football, they’re going to have to pony up that premium.