In an excellent interview with Amy Lawrence in today’s Observer, Arsenal’s Head of Football – Raul Sanllehi – says that the club will improve the way they deal with player contracts.
Over the last couple of seasons too many players have been allowed reach the final 12 months of their deals, and the Gunners face the prospect of Aaron Ramsey and Danny Welbeck leaving for free at the end of the current campaign when both would have commanded substantial fees if a decision had been made to sell this summer or before.
Instead, both were retained in a summer of flux, and having to replace them without the benefit of transfer funds coming in will prove a tricky job for Sanllehi, Sven Mislintat and the rest of the football executive team.
However, as Ivan Gazidis – on whose watch this issue developed – departs for AC Milan, the new man is insistent that Arsenal will do better.
“I do believe that a player’s contract should never go to the last year, as a policy,” he said.
“But I don’t think I am inventing the wheel. Anybody could agree on that. Normally the contracts of the players are for five years.
“You need to have a clear idea of what you want to do with that player when he is in the third year, at the latest.”
He also outlined the process through which decisions would be taken, and the fact that new Academy boss Per Mertesacker is included in the group of people responsible for them.
“At the end there is one criterion – is this good or bad for the club?” he continued.
“Is this going to make us stronger or not? We don’t take decisions overnight, on a quick reflection.
A lot of people are involved. People in which we have a high trust. When we reach a decision, it’s for a reason.
“Per Mertesacker is also now on our executive team. We really are getting a new level of expertise and a new energy in our executive team.
“Having someone like Per, his record goes without saying. The club captain from last season, hugely respected by everyone in the game. I think that will really add something.”