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Sanllehi must not follow Chelsea's contract blueprint to ensure Arteta succeeds

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As will be the case at clubs across the country, the way in which Arsenal deal with players whose contracts are winding down towards their expiration dates will have a great impact on the future of the club.

Currently, the Gunners have six players [Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Bukayo Saka, David Luiz, Mesut Ozil, Shkodran Mustafi and Sokratis] whose deals expire in 2021 and at least half of these players have been key to the way Mikel Arteta has helped the side progress since his arrival.

Ensuring their futures at the club are stable will be of course be in the best interest of Arsenal but the main aspect of negotiations that must be kept in mind is power. This doesn't just refer to the finances clubs can shove in front of players but clubs being aware of the circumstances they are in and using that to their advantage.

Chelsea handing contract extensions to Olivier Giroud and Willy Caballero stand as the most recent examples of this. Despite allowing players to run their contracts down to within months of their expiration dates usually putting clubs in weaker positions, the Blues were able to come into negotiations from a position of strength.

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When looking at the pair, age was of course a massive factor that helped Chelsea [Giroud is 33-years-old and Caballero is 38] but that alone isn't what will have aided them. The decision on Cabellero allows Frank Lampard to prioritise Kepa Arrizabalaga for another season as the No.1. goalkeeper and was quite straightforward.

The case of Giroud was more nuanced, yet the Blues were still able to control proceedings. Despite his age and lack of football in the first half of the season, the Frenchman was still able to get interest from Tottenham and Inter Milan in January as an exit looked very close to happening.

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Most clubs would have let an ageing striker whose contract expires in the summer go in those circumstances but Chelsea didn't. Why? Because Lampard saw the value in having Giroud and sitting fourth in the Premier League, they have a great chance of qualifying for the Champions League.

Although Arteta and Raul Sanllehi will be aware of each players' value to the side, they cannot afford to take the same approach in allowing players' contracts to be run down to within six months of expiration. The club's trajectory has improved since the Spaniard took charge in December but they cannot guarantee they will meet the footballing demands of each player, whether that be game time or which European competition they are in.

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Aubameyang and Saka will be the club's top priorities as the two of the most valuable players during the 2019/20 season but that fact that even Sokratis has doubts about seeing out his contract until 2021 underlines the fact that Arsenal's power in negotiations will come before the start of the 2020/21 campaign.

"I have one more year here but me, I never sit on my contract," Sokratis said about his contract situation in March.

"I don't care. If I'm not happy, I don't play enough or the coach doesn't like me, I don't care about the contract. For me the money is not important, it is important I feel good, I feel happy and the team is happy with me. If not, I take the road and I finish."

This isn't a new problem, however, as losing power in contract negotiations was a problem which haunted the Gunners throughout the 2010s, culminating in the swap deal to get rid of Alexis Sanchez, a disproportionate wage packet being offered to keep Mesut Ozil and Aaron Ramsey leaving on a free to Juventus.

All three outcomes in these situations have left long-lasting effects on the club and as each player gets closer to the final year of their deal, Arsenal come dangerously close to allowing history to repeat itself. Just this week, it was reported that the Gunners would look to move Henrikh Mkhitaryan out of the club by the means he arrived [a swap deal] rather than completely cutting ties and severing a vicious cycle of mismanagement.

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In their actions, Chelsea demonstrated that they are in a position that Arsenal are aspiring to be in. A position where they determine the futures of their players with relative ease and not have the players dictate their decisions [for the most part as Callum Hudson-Odoi proved last season that he could].

To reach that position, however, Arsenal will need to start using the power they already have in a better fashion, which is something Sanllehi has proven he is aware of by admitting "we [Arsenal] cannot get to the last year of the contract and if we cannot get a renewal before that then we may have to sell." in May 2019.

Decisions such as those will no doubt be tough to make, especially in the case of Aubameyang, with the luxury of power being limited, they may be decisions that have to be taken sooner than the club desire.




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