After a tough year for Arsenal fans, the club had one of its best weeks in recent memory. Three wins, stretching the win streak to four, and moving into the FA Cup semi-finals. Then the club announced they had finally agreed to terms with standout Bukayo Saka. If all of that wasn’t enough, attacking sensation Gabrielle Martinelli signed a new deal after tallying 10 goals and 4 assists in his first season at the club.
A decent week to be a Gooner...— Arsenal (@Arsenal) July 5, 2020
Sunday: Win 2-1 at Sheffield United + book place at Wembley
Wednesday: Win 4-0 against Norwich
Wednesday: Bukayo signs a new deal
Friday: Gabi signs a new deal
Saturday: Win 2-0 at Wolves pic.twitter.com/xdSO0uB60E
However, there is still plenty of more work for Arsenal and Arteta as they hope to return the club to the Champions League and sort out the depth chart. Now that those two young attacking talents are locked in for the next few seasons, which contracts should the club prioritize next?
5 - Eddie Nketiah
With Saka and Martinelli extended, the next young attacker on the senior squad who’s deal would expire first is Nketiah. He has two seasons left, but given Arteta’s confidence in him since the return and the other deals agreed to this week, it makes sense to lock down Eddie through ‘24. That will give Mikel plenty of options next season and puts the club in a good position to sell a player in the next few years. Whether that be a more senior guy like Lacazette or if one of the younger guys fails to secure a starting place with the club. Four goals, from 8 starts, just 20-years-old, and still plenty of growth left for Nketiah.
4 - Emiliano Martinez
When Bernd Leno went down, it seemed as though this portion of the season was cursed for Arsenal. However, Martinez has been solid as the new number one and looks like one of the best backups in the league. He’s only 27 and has two years left on his current deal, at a reportedly meager £20k/week. Extending him to ‘24 locks down the keeper position for Arsenal for the next few seasons, allowing them to focus more attention to U23-level talent and elsewhere in the squad. Is the club really going to find a better backup at such a good rate?
3 - Shkodran Mustafi
Who would have thought at the start of the season, or even back in January, that Mustafi would be a key piece in Arteta reviving this squad? But the German CB has been solid since Mikel took over and the only senior CB to stay healthy and available during the return. With Luiz and Sokratis likely gone after next year and an unknown future status for Konstantinos Mavropanos and Callum Chambers under Arteta, Mustafi suddenly looks like an easy way to shore up the defensive depth chart. A bridge between aging CBs and the potential of Saliba and Holding. He has one year left on his current deal, and a two year extension makes sense whether he plays that entire period out or is eventually sold.
2 - Folarin Balogun
With Saka getting his first senior contract, Balogun becomes the highest profile member of the U23s that the club needs to lock down. As we noted last week, The Athletic is reporting that he may be looking to leave the club this summer. However, with 50 goals from 70 matches, Folarin is an attacking gem and should be a part of Arteta’s long term plans for rebuilding Arsenal. A four-year senior contract and a full-season loan to the Championship next year would be ideal for both player and club. Arsenal shouldn’t let promising young talent like this just walk away.
1 - Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang
Did you really expect anyone else at number one? Arsenal’s best player and the biggest transfer market question mark for the club. We recently covered the reported contract demands from Auba’s camp - a three-year deal at £250,000-a-week. Auba would be 34 when the contract ends, but considering he already makes £200k/week, his production level, and importance to the club it’s a deal Arsenal need to make. It signals intentions to return to the Champions League and the finances will be off-set when Ozil exits. Arsenal fans have had a great week, but will be feeling quite confident heading into next season if this extension is agreed to in the coming weeks.
The only other players whose contracts expire at the end of next season (‘21) are Ozil, Sokratis, and Luiz. Both defenders will be retiring or moving on, and Ozil’s tenure at Arsenal will come to a close as will his hefty wage bill. If you are in-charge of Arsenal, which current players contracts would you focus on first?