Thursday, 23 May 2013

The player Wenger should sign before Jovetic -Vermaelen to be sold?

Morning Gooners.

With all the talk about who we'll bring into the club this summer, little has been said about which players we want to stay and who will leave.

Clearly both Andrey Arshavin and Sebastien Squallaci are out of contract and won't be offered new deals, so come July 1st they'll be off the Arsenal wage bill.

Then there is Bacary Sagna - who at 30-years-old is the third oldest player in the squad - and has just played a 25 game league season after recovering from a double leg break in the 2011/12 season.

Sagna has a year remaining on his deal, so this summer could be when we see Arsenal cash in on him, if he's not going to commit to a longer contract. Talks had stalled earlier in the season when the Frenchman was unwilling to put pen to paper on an extra year on the same money.

However I had heard that the Frenchman and the club were reopening negotiations on extending his stay in north London and those talks were positive. I've heard nothing since.

If I were Arsene Wenger the first signing I'd make this closed season is that of Sagna. Since joining in 2007, he's been consistently one of the club's best players. There have been dips in his form this season, but isn't that to be expected from a professional athlete after two serious injuries.

And maybe Sagna is unable to play 38 league games a season any more in probably the most demanding position on the pitch. But that's why we have a squad. I think his best performance last season actually came when he was forced to play in central defence at Sunderland after a late injury to Laurent Koscielny in the warm up. He was outstanding that day.

I think all too often we as supporters think that any player beyond 30-years-old if beyond their best. And while it's been the manager's position not to offer players over that age anything more than a one year deal, exceptions have now started to be made. Mikel Arteta was offered a longer contract when he joined.

To cash in on Sagna this summer would be a mistake in my view. He still has plenty to offer on the pitch and is an example to the younger members of the squad of how a professional footballer should behave of the field as well.

So Arsene, sign up Sagna!

Another decision the manager will need to make this summer regards the future of captain Thomas Vermaelen.

The defender lost his place in the team following our defeat in the north London derby in March, starting just the home game against Norwich following Per Mertesacker's red card at West Brom. The defender then just managed cameo appearances in three games.

This morning's newspapers believe the manager hasn't made his mind up about whether to keep the 27-year-old who has a contract until 2016. The Daily Mirror believe that Barcelona and Manchester United have watched the Belgium international. While The Sun claim we'll listen to offers of just £5m for him.

While it's clear that the Laurent Koscielny and Per Mertesacker partnership is the manager's ideal combination at the back, there does need to be adequate back up for the first choice pairing. Vermaelen remains a very good defender and I believe should be kept.

And finally Jack Wilshere has been speaking about his season after returning to the team following months on the sidelines with ankle and knee injuries.

Wilshere told Arsenal Player:

"From a personal point of view it has been good season for me, especially after last year. 
"I played no games last year, so to get 33 under my belt this time was great and it puts me in good stead for next season as well. 
"Hopefully I can get more games under my belt, improve my form a bit more and get back to the level I know I can get to. 
"I had a good run of games after my injury, then I picked up another injury, which set me back a bit. But before that I was pleased with my form and how the team were playing."

While the England international played only a small part in the final ten league games of the season - after being left out of the Bayern Munich game - it is clear that for large parts of the campaign Wilshere was dragging the team to victory.

The worrying thing for our opponents is that we've still yet to see the best from him.

That's it for today. Back with more tomorrow.

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