There is something fantastically different feeling about your team having a young star prospect. It’s not the same feeling as having a good play, or even a great established star. It’s not the same feeling as having a good team or even great team. Those are wonderful, and the team one is objectively better to have, but when your club has one of the brightest young talents in the league — maybe world —it’s a different type of buzz, a separate exhilaration.
It reminds me of that feeling of being a kid and having a treasure, maybe even a secret. Having something special that only you had, no one else.
Only you can dream about what this treasure will lead to. Only you get to think about how wonderful they can become or see this secret unfold. You get to watch them grow into the star you always believed they would be. And I would be lying if it didn’t feel wonderful to know how many other fans are left looking in from the outside, wishing they could share that feeling. Some plotting how they can get their hands on your treasure.
Obviously, as I stated, there are better feelings in football, like winning the league or cups, or all of that great stuff. But it’s not the same type of feeling and this is a feeling that Arsenal fans hadn’t felt for a long time before Arsenal flipped a switch and invested in young star prospects for their foundation.
Yesterday, the Arsenal community was abuzz as news broke that Arsenal may be making strides toward a Bukayo Saka contract extension.
The news, I believe broke by Sami Mokbel, suggested that Arsenal were coming to agreements over a 5-year contract at £200,000 per week, a deal worth around £52million.
Saka is one of three young stars that fans have on their mind when it comes to contract extensions. Since the end of Arsenal’s summer transfer window came to a close, all attention has turned to the extensions of Bukayo Saka, William Saliba, and Gabriel Martinelli. In fact, I would go so far as to say, completing the extensions of these three players may be more important that completing significant January business — although who can argue against seeing Arsenal find ways to do both.
“Obviously we have to plan for the future and we are all working on it,” Arteta said about the trio.
“Obviously Edu is on top of it and all the board and we will try to do things in the right way, being fair and trying to plan the best possible way and reward the players that in our opinion have a big future for the club.
“At the moment we have something to announce, we will do that.
“We will try to do the same thing and make sure that the club is always protected, that the club is always in a good position to move forward and the players are happy to be at the club.”
It’s a very promising sign, and as a fan you have to appreciate when you have leadership that reflects the views of the fans toward the players, and want to protect treasured prospects, players, and young men.
If Arsenal are as advanced with the Saka deal, it’s a fantastic step forward and a sign of good movement. £200,000 per week is no small fee but Bukayo Saka, and his value to this Arsenal project, are undeniably worth it.
It will be very interesting to see what Arsenal look to offer William Saliba to try and tie his future to the club. The case and leverage he has on his side is incredible and it’s hard to imagine just about every major club in the world aren’t looking in from the outside wondering if they have a way in with him and his camp to pry him from north London. This likely means Arsenal will have to throw a significant fee his way, something he has demonstrated himself to be worth. Reportedly, Saliba is on. ~£40,000 per week, and it wouldn’t be surprising if Arsenal look to triple or quadruple that amount.
When it comes to Saliba, and even Saka, the club have to take into account that their ideal plan involves another contract for these stars when they enter into the prime at the end of this extension. This contract would likely see an additional bump in pay meaning Arsenal will want to leave room here for that increase, without it tipping into the 300-350,000 per week range. So throwing the Crown Jewels at these kids, as tempting as it may be, may not be the wisest, which certainly leads to trickier negotiations.
In the end, I have a lot of confidence in the club retaining these players for another contract, but fans will simply have to be patient and understand these might not be as straight forward of conversations as we believe them to be.
Today continues Arsenal’s Europa League group stage campaign and marks the second match in an onslaught of an October. With this many matches, Arsenal will have to navigate a congested fixture list while maintaining player fitness and health. It’s a tough task, but Arsenal aren’t alone in facing this challenge.
This weekend, Arsenal will face Liverpool in the Premier League who had their Champions League match with Glasgow Rangers on Tuesday. While Liverpool will get more time to rest, Arsenal will play a far less difficult opponent which should allow them to rotate. We know Arteta likes to play strong lineups in cup matches and group stage, but Liverpool played mostly their regular Premier League lineup.
As I sat down the think about it, I started to wonder if that will offer Arsenal some degree of advantage over their Premier League competition like Liverpool. It’s a league often decided by tight margins and if Arsenal can find a way to rest players and go into this weekend with a full squad of fresh and healthy legs, it stands to potentially offer a leg up. Something to consider and keep an eye on when the Gunners face Liverpool.
Arsenal have shown no fear this year, even when they walked into Old Trafford, and a squad feeling like they have the legs to be rampant would be a huge confidence boost. Having said that, I don’t expect a weak side to be played today. My prediction:
I’ll likely spend more time later in the week giving my thoughts on the Liverpool much, but this ability to rotate is something that Arsenal’s steeper competition are less likely to have — except Manchester City who have two squads capable of performing in either competition if they wanted.
First step, beating a Glimt side that is no slouch. Looking for another dose of Marquinhos magic! Enjoy the match today.