Arsene Wenger has confirmed that preliminary contract negotiations have begun with some of the club’s top players as they edge towards the final year of their current deals.
While a huge number Arsenal squad members, some since departed or on loan, have signed long-term deals in the past two years, the likes of club captain Robin van Persie, Theo Walcott and Alex Song will become free agents in two years.
Eager to avoid a repeat of the Samir Na$ri situation, the Frenchman admitted to assembled media that contact with player representatives had been made.
“Yes, this starts now. We will try to convince them. Our desire is there to do it and we are ready to sit down with them.
Somewhat more worrying, but relative to the circumstances in which Arsenal operate, Wenger also hinted that the financial muscle of other clubs meant that there was no certainty in sealing top players on long-term deals.
“After that we see where we go but the gap on that front has become bigger for us so, today, I cannot say that if we go to the maximum [deal] we are sure to sign a player – even if we do that we are not sure.”
Looking back at a summer in which he was left with little choice but to cash in on both Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri, the boss again lamented that the Spaniard was sold for less than market value, although the price for Nasri went some way to make up for that.
“I always said that Cesc was a bargain,” said Wenger. “We were forced into a situation because for me he is one of the best midfielders in the world and we knew that we would sell him under what he’s worth.
“With Nasri at least we got a reasonable price for a player with one year to go.”