Gunner Thoughts

Slow News Day, Yay! + Saka + Champions League Thoughts

A slow news day Thursday, but a few thoughts on that, Saka, and Champions League.

Yesterday was a slow day in the world of Arsenal news, at least for most the day, as Arsenal fans twiddled their thumbs waiting for a scrap of news, photo of training, something to appease their appetite.

In the moment of quiet and the lull here before Arsenal take on Leicester to keep this title charge going, I couldn’t help but reflect back on times thankfully gone.

Oh how I would have killed for a quiet day three or four years ago. Back when each day was either filled with actual Arsenal news and uproar or reading the word “deadwood” a few thousand times and suffering through the constant drone of “Arsenal must do this in the Summer”, “Arsenal must turn over players faster”, “we need a new team, it should look like this”. It was constant, incessant, and a bit hilarious how different our team now looks from those visions, as it sits on top of the league.

How different it all is now, as we can sit back and reflect on just how far this team has come in a short time. Now on a quiet day we are anxious for news simply because of how much we love this team, but at least we can sit comfortably knowing the team is in a great place.

Saka signs!!!

The wait felt long, but the slow news day was broken in the greatest way. Sami Mokbel released news that Bukayo Saka had agreed to a new contract in principle.

The news was corroborated and David Ornstein of The Athletic reported the same news.

“The deal has not yet been signed and may take some time to finalise, but it is now in place and will come as a huge boost to the club.”

“Arsenal activated an option to extend Saka’s career at the Emirates Stadium until 2024, but the fresh terms will supersede that and see them retain an academy graduate who would have been highly sought after had he been on the market.”

Ornstein’s report didn’t speculate on wages, but Sami Mokbel has stated his belief this deal will see Saka earn at least £10-million a year and £200,000 per week.

This. news. is. brilliant.

Obviously. I don’t think we should care much about his wages if this is the ballpark we are talking about. Frankly, anything between ~180-230k probably falls within “justified”. Above that wouldn’t be a problem per say, but you start to think about the fact that Arsenal will have to extend him at least once more in the future to capture his prime, and that too will likely come with a significant pay hike. If you jump too high right now, you may end up paying extremely high in the future OR, worst case, you end up losing him like Liverpool lost Mane because they weren’t willing to match a 400,000 per week wage Bayern were.

But that’s thinking too far ahead, and at problems that don’t exist.

As Ornstein noted, it may be a bit before the info’s details are agreed too and fleshed out, but that the most important chunk is agreed. I think we can say with confidence now that two of Arsenal’s three major contract extensions are complete.

  • Martinelli extended his stay earlier this month with suggestions that it goes until 2027
  • Saka is all agreed at this point and ironing out details
  • Saliba will be next

There are a few fearmongers and dooms-dayers convinced that Saliba is going to get the last laugh in Arteta’s face by walking away and going to a bigger club, but I think there are so many reasons to believe that Arsenal will have no problem signing Saliba.

There will be a few clubs willing to pay him a nice packet, but he’s settled into London so flawlessly and is a part of a young, thriving team that’s pushing for top honors and just about to be back in the Champions League. It make take a little bit of hemming, hawing, and finagling, but Arsenal and him will reach a healthy agreement that gets him paid and leaves space for improvement.

Three huge deals for Arsenal’s present and future.

Champions League

Today may be the Europa League draw for Arsenal, but it’s hard not to look further ahead to bigger European nights. Short of one of the most diabolical collapses in league history, Arsenal should qualify for next season’s Champions League.

This week I spent a little bit of time watching some of the Champions League matchups, but it’s impossible to watch and not think about Arsenal. Not to contextualize or spin takeaways about Arsenal.

The easiest being Manchester City looking entirely beatable once again as they drew to Leipzig. Frustrating we didn’t get anything from our matchup with them, but it’s hard not feel like Manchester City will continue to drop points and give us opportunities to separate ourselves from them.

But what really struck me from watching the midweek matchups was just how ready Arsenal are to compete in this competition. Yes, there is still work to do on our depth and ability to juggle multiple, major competitions but their team is ready to compete consistently at that level. It was hard to watch bits of Leipzig, Porto, Inter, Frankfurt and not think Arsenal are capable of dominating those games, or at least controlling them the way we want.

It makes waiting difficult when you dream of seeing the red and white back in the biggest competitions AND you know they are capable of beating many of the teams. Could they already be in a place to not only compete but make a deep run?

Would make this project successful beyond many people’s dreams if they pulled off winning the league this season AND followed it with Champions League success.

I’m dreaming but don’t wake me. Not yet.

Perhaps by the time you’re reading this, Arsenal have drawn Juventus in the Europa League and will get a marquee fixture to make a statement to the world, even if it is the Europa League.

Alright, leaving it there for today. Players are returning to fitness and Arsenal are hunting a second win in a row against Leicester City. After dropping points to Everton and Brentford, the room for error against teams like Leicester seems tight – even away from home. More to come on that Saturday!

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