Monday, 6 May 2019

Exit of three senior players at Arsenal marks start of major squad overhaul under Unai Emery



Aaron Ramsey wept on the pitch as he bid farewell to the club

The departures of Aaron Ramsey, Petr Cech and Danny Welbeck will mark the start of a major overhaul of the Arsenal squad under Unai Emery as the club shaves up to £17m off their bloated wage bill.


Ramsey, Cech and Welbeck are all among the highest earners at Arsenal, where the wage bill is running at an annual record high of more than £220m.

Arsenal’s desperation to trim the wage bill was a major factor in their decision to allow both Ramsey and Welbeck to leave the club for free. Ramsey currently earns around £110,000-a-week, with Welbeck believed to be earning £115,000-a-week and Cech, who is retiring, taking home around £100,000-a-week.

Arsenal will only have around £40m to spend on transfers this summer if they do not qualify for next season’s Champions League, which can realistically only now be achieved via winning the Europa League. The trimming of the wage bill, though, will give them more room to manoeuvre in the long-term.

The departures of three senior figures will be seen as a step towards redressing the balance of the wage bill, where Arsenal’s highest earners are all in the latter stages of their careers.

Arsenal shattered their wage structure last season, when they handed Mesut Ozil, now 30, a new deal worth £350,000-a-week and then signed both Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Henrikh Mkhitaryan — aged 29 and 30 respectively — to bumper contracts worth around £200,000-a-week.


Arsenal will find it difficult to offload players such as Ozil and Mkhitaryan because of their mammoth wages, as well as their inconsistent performances this season. It may also prove hard again to find a buyer for Shokdran Mustafi, the German defender who was signed for more than £35m in 2016.

The departures of Ramsey, Cech and Welbeck will allow Arsenal to divert funds towards younger, cheaper players who will have greater re-sale values in the future.



Danny Welbeck has not featured for Arsenal since injury against Sporting in November

The likes of Reiss Nelson and Calum Chambers both expect to be pushing for first-team places next season after their loan moves to Hoffenheim and Fulham, and there are high hopes within the club for young attackers Emile Smith-Rowe, Bukayo Saka and Xavier Amaechi.


Bournemouth’s Ryan Fraser has been discussed as a possible option this summer. The Scotland winger’s contract expires at the end of next season so Bournemouth run the risk of losing the 25-year-old for free if they do not sell him in the upcoming transfer window.



The retirement of stalwart Petr Cech will free up cash

Arsenal have been desperately short of wide options since Welbeck suffered a serious injury in November. The January loan signing of Denis Suarez from Barcelona was intended to cover the wide positions but the Spaniard failed to impress before injury ended his campaign.


Reports in the Catalan press this weekend linked Barcelona with a move for Alexandre Lacazette, one of the few players in Emery’s current squad who would command a sizeable transfer fee. Spanish reports say that Arsenal’s interest in defender Samuel Umtiti could form part of any negotiations but the north London club are naturally resistant to the idea of cashing in on their best player this season.


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