With Arsenal desperate to navigate out of this period of uncertainty – one which has seen big name after big name leave the club and the chance to play Champions League football set to be a real battle for next season – the last thing the club need to do is get rid of another established player in the squad.
There is some sense to Arsenal’s thinking behind reportedly offering Bacary Sagna only a one-year extension to his contract; the player has had two serious injuries in 2012 and it’s unclear how far into the future it will hinder his performances.
The problem is, Arsenal are not in a position to be picky about who they retain or who they can go into the market to pick up as a suitable replacement. The club’s best have streamed out the exit door, while it’s been increasingly difficult to shift the deadwood due to their wages. But Sagna has been an extremely good performer for the club since arriving from Auxerre in 2007, forcing Emmanuel Eboue out of the right-back spot and making it his own for the past five seasons.
Carl Jenkinson has made noticeable improvements to his game this season, looking perfectly adept at handling the pressure of Premier League games with such little experience in the top-flight. However, it’s still far too early to throw him into the mix as the team’s first-choice.
What then happens if the club do go on and replace Sagna via the transfer market, most likely with a player from abroad? It will take another period of adaptation to English football, possibly forcing Jenkinson to take up more playing time and in bigger matches throughout the season. Arsène Wenger will naturally go for a younger player to replace Sagna, but as always, the manager seems to neglect the importance of experienced members of the squad and their value to players still learning their trade.
Bacary Sagna has been well off form over the past few games, possibly giving evidence that he is unhappy with his treatment from the club and the offer of only a short extension rather than something substantial. But it’s really the first noticeable dip in the player’s time at Arsenal. There was talk of him taking the captain’s armband when Robin van Persie departed due to his experience and time in north London, while he’s also consistently been one of the Premier League’s best full-backs over the years.
You simply can’t buy that level of consistency and value, especially with Arsenal’s prudent approach to the transfer market. It only takes a noticeable drop in quality in one area of the pitch for the whole team to feel the effects, so at this stage it seems maddening that the club would consider letting Sagna go.
With his age, he’s the perfect bridge between now and the time when Jenkinson is good enough to become the team’s first-choice. As mentioned, he’s hardly put a foot wrong and Wenger has spoken out about the player’s love for the club.
Above all, Arsenal need to be looking at quality and continuity in their squad. It’s of little use to anyone when the manager has to tear up his plans each summer and start from scratch because an important name has been moved on.
Sagna would continue to offer the club plenty going forward, and if he remains injury free for the remainder of the season, it should be beyond question that he receives at least a two-year extension to his contract. Even with those two injuries, Sagna is still far too good to be discarded without much thought.
Written by Thomas Hallett