The morning started off a little bit slow on the news front, but quickly took off for Arsenal fans as it was uncovered that center back David Luiz was set to be moved along as his contract expired.
Immediately people were confused given many had thought he still had an additional year left on the contract from this last summer. Further worry from some came from the fact that he has seen a large uptick in his performance under Mikel Arteta and was the relatively clear partner to play alongside Pablo Mari if he is signed or William Saliba as he gets up and running in the Premier League next year.
Instead, Gunners across the world were being told that in all likelihood Luiz would not be on the team as his contract expires. When paired with the potential departures of Sokratis, Holding, Mavropanos, and Mustafi, there could be some concern over who Arsenal would be left with to cover their list of fixtures.
As the world blew up and fires were lit, the club confirmed that Luiz signed a one-year deal but that the club has the option of extending it an additional year, something people online have commented would not take a lot of time for the club to do, if they so choose. The club has not commented on the likelihood of them doing this, giving no insights into their plans at this time.
The news raises an interesting debate. Going back to when he was signed, there were a lot of people concerned that this decision was another short-sighted, band aid purchase with little upside. It was an opinion that proved fairly true under Unai Emery as Luiz produced a very inconsistent product on the pitch. However, as mentioned, things seemed to have turned around quite a bit under Arteta’s leadership and Arteta, reportedly, likes him a lot. This swing in level of performance, coupled with some perceived future plans surrounding the central defense makes the potential departure one to keep an eye on.
Regardless of what Arsenal choose to do about next year, it would be fair to assume his contract will be extended in the short term to finish this campaign – if that should be needed. But at £125.6k a week, Luiz is the 5th highest earner on the team. If the intent is to drastically cut down on the wage bill given that Arsenal will likely not be in the Champions League next year and will have lost a large amount of revenue during this period, while reducing the number of aging players they have in the future, we could see Arsenal opt to let him move on.
Definitely will be keeping an eye on this and other situations that see Arsenal deciding between short- term chances at success and long-term team building.