Robin Van Persie has been the subject of a great deal of transfer speculation over the last week or so, and the next window doesn’t even open for another three months.
The current captain has two years left on his contract, and the clock is ticking for Arsene Wenger to get a signature from the star prolonging his deal. Arsenal are on shaky ground with yet another one of their big players.
The Gunners appear to have an issue with players coming to the end of their contracts and calling all the shots on their future, and it’s a problem that other clubs don’t seem to face as often.
Manchester United, for example, signed young star Tom Cleverley this week for an extra two years on top of his already two-year-long contract.
Yes, United can offer a side that have numerous trophies and appear well-placed to retain those this year, but the moment Cleverley showed potential for the club, Sir Alex Ferguson moved to lock him down for the long term.
Wenger doesn’t seem to have made the same moves to tie down his big players, or at least not lately anyway.
Rewind to 2006, and Cesc Fabregas signed a mammoth eight-year deal with the club, tying him to Arsenal until 2014.
That contract was broken by Fabregas’ continual pleadings to leave for Barcelona, but if Wenger had been more stubborn with the playmaker, he could have kept him for a further two years before making a tidy profit on the former skipper’s exit.
But for one reason or another, a contract extension wasn’t sought with Samir Nasri until the last minute – and with just 12 months to go on his deal, the 24-year-old could demand a move to any club he liked. In the end the star chose Manchester City, one of the Gunners’ rivals for a Champions League spot.
And now, Wenger faces further crises next summer, with Van Persie coming into the final year of his contract, along with Theo Walcott and Andrey Arshavin.
Arsenal are very good at hiding what goes on behind the scenes at the club, and the issue over contracts could be simply that players are refusing to sign, rather than Wenger not being savvy enough with footballers that show potential.
But with so many big players holding all the cards at the club, the Gunners clearly have an issue with tying down young talent for the long term, and with extending contracts for the players that success at the club is planned around.
Van Persie is very quickly becoming another Nasri situation for Wenger, but with Walcott and Arshavin to deal with as well, it looks like Arsenal fans haven’t weathered the worst of the transfer storm just yet.