Out of contract players: are Arsenal just being sloppy in retaining players?

By Sir Hardly Anyone

In the media, there is always a lot of debate about how Arsenal regularly lets players’ contracts run down, and how stupid this is.   (And it is interesting that it is not just something we are seeing this season.  It crops up every season). Although no comparative figures are normally given, the suggestion is often made that this is an Arsenal problem, and other clubs are not so stupid or feeble in their administration.

So I thought it might be worth comparing Arsenal with other clubs that have players coming to an end of the contract and also see what is being done as a result.

For as we know there are both advantages and disadvantages in having players tied down to long-term contracts.

The advantage of a long-term contract is obvious: the club has the player and the player can’t leave without the club’s agreement.  What’s more, the club can on occasion make a profit out of selling a player on a contract through the transfer fee – so the club has a choice.

On the other hand, when a contract comes to an end a player is able to start negotiating with another club from the end of the transfer window before his contract ends – which normally means from February onward for a move in the summer.  And having a player’s contract come to an end obviously means that an unwanted player doesn’t have to be paid anymore.

Occasionally of course something odd can happen as with Willian, who left Arsenal by mutual agreement, with no transfer fee or compensation to the player for the loss of his £5.2m a year contract. 

 Willian and his agent were then highly critical of Arsenal saying that there was no plan or project – although we have seen one FA Cup triumph, a cutting of the yellow card total almost in half, and a move from 8th to 5th in the league, something that Manchester United, West Ham and Leicester City (three clubs tipped for success at the start of the season) would have most certainly welcomed.

So Arsenal ended the season with three out of contract players, Mohamed Elneny, Alexandre Lacazette and Eddie Nketiah.   As we know Mo Elneny has signed a new contract, and we are told Eddie is still negotiating.  Lacazette (who will be 31 in a couple of days) is leaving.

Now for the rest.  How many players do the other clubs in the league have out of contract now the season is over?  Clubs with a higher number than Arsenal are in bold.

  1. Aston Villa: 1
  2. Brentford: 2
  3. Brighton: 3
  4. Burnley: 9
  5. Chelsea: 3
  6. Crystal Palace: 8
  7. Everton: 5
  8. Leeds United: 1
  9. Leicester City: 2
  10. Liverpool: 4
  11. Manchester City: 2
  12. Manchester United: 6 (and perhaps it is worth quoting who those are, in case it is thought that these are a bunch of youth players no one has heard of.   They are: Edinson Cavani, Lee Grant, Jesse Lingard, Juan Mata, Nemanja Matic, Paul Pogba.)
  13. Newcastle United: 1
  14. Norwich City: 1
  15. Southampton: 5
  16. Tottenham Hotspur: 0
  17. Watford: 3
  18. Wolverhampton Wanderers: 4

So eight of the other 19 clubs in the Premier League this season have more players with contracts at an end than Arsenal do.    Three have the same number and eight have fewer players with contracts at an end.  Arsenal are not the total idiots, unable to sort out any administrative matters, and unable to retain their best players.

Tottenham may well be congratulating themselves on losing no one on a free at the end of the contract – or of course, they might well have a few players they would like to move on but are tied into longer contracts – I can’t really say.  But then, last season, they only had 20 players in their first-team squad who were over 21 and thus needed to be counted in the 25.

Comparing the clubs on this basis Arsenal only had 16 registered players over the age of 21 who thus needed to be counted.  Among those who don’t get counted are the likes of Saka, Smith Rowe, Martinelli, Tavares, and of course Saliba.   This in part is why we had only four players in the squad who were homegrown: Holding, Nketiah, Ramsdale, and White.  Two of the squad regulars who were under 21 were also homegrown.

I think overall, the administration has done well.  We’re not stuck with players we don’t want, and we have a very young squad who next season will be that bit better.  Not a bad way to look toward the transfer window.  Although the media will be full of cries of disaster, when (as seems likely) we actually only sign two players, rather than the half dozen the critics demand.


10 Replies to “Out of contract players: are Arsenal just being sloppy in retaining players?”

  1. Eleney staying….a real piece of good news. Much underrated yet excellent midfielder.
    And it is being done quickly. Well done !

    Let’s hope they can settle Eddie in for a few years as well.

  2. It is not “sloppy” it is poor management bordering on incompetence. I mean no discourtesy but if the hundreds of millions in lost sales and mismanagement of contracts and loans came out of your pocket you would perhaps use more sobering language than “sloppy”. Check out the Mavropanos fiasco to cite just 1 example amongst many.

    In fact a recent survey showed Arsenal to be the 2nd worst performer in the PL transfer market (player purchases minus player sales) after ManU precisely because of our catasthrophic mismanagement. Actually it is not catasthrophic thanks to St Mikel bamboozling of Kroenke with his honey-rich “project” whoo then, swallowing whole line and sinker, forks out the dosh to save our bacon.

    The problem is systemic and it is deep-rooted and if Arsenal were a well-run company the entire management -from CEO to St Mikel (teflon-Mikel more like)- would be replaced

    ps I’m pleased about Elneny and hopeful about Nketiah.

  3. Same old nonsense from the media. I wonder if there’s a way to determine how much influence the football media have on public opinion re football. It seems a lot of football fans take the blather with a grain of salt. I read several newspapers and football sites daily. It’s not really hard to spot the inanity they spew. I don’t see the commenters on this site duped by the media, quite the opposite. Small sample size, I know, but they probably represent a sizeable number of football fans. The younger fans are more easily influenced and even very young children have access to the internet and can post their ill-informed (and immature) opinions with impunity. But all comments and opinions are equal in this medium.

    Thanks for the stats on the number of players out of contract for each team. They prove once again the bias and perfidy of the media. But again, who actually believe this nonsense?

  4. most contract decision is really up to the players. look at Eddie situation, Arsenal really want him to stay and already offered him extension since early this year but he’s reluctant to commit cause he feel he’s not getting much game time, but now looks like the club and the manager managed to convince him otherwise. There’s also player like Lacazette who’s nearly 30 and with his performance for the last 2/3 seasons really not up to scratch, maybe cause of that the club feel it better to move on. i also see how the media ridicule and blasts Man Utd for give contract extension to Juan Mata, an aging player who don’t really make any impact whatsoever. so the media is free to speculates all they want like we also sometime make assumptions and pass judgment too quickly without knowing what really going on behind the scene, but in the end the club make them look like a fool when Emile signed his new contract. sometime the media wanted the clubs to retain players that really gave no benefit to the club and sometime the players agent will leaked info/story to the media to put pressure on the clubs. Barcelona is perfect example of how the club gave players contract extension but now stuck with players that barely play for the 1st team and cannot sell cause of their high wages (Arsenal had same nightmare for couple of players before, but fortunately we managed to move on from that). it’s also not really a crime for other clubs to make bid for Arsenal players and like i mention is all really up to the players. I also notice the media praised Arsenal for all the players that we bought last summer, has performing really well and make positive impacts in the 1st team. today in the media also has a nice story about Marseille president give praise and send class message to Arsenal for being a good friend that must be respect. we don’t need to give much attention to all the negative stories about the club cause there’s really no end to it

  5. Carragher reckons that Rashford is not good enough for Man. Utd, but is more suitable for Tottenham or Arsenal-level teams.

    Has Carragher looked at a league table this season?

    That should tell you all you need to know about football pundits.

  6. Fedra,

    I fully disagree with your comment.Yes there have been issues, but as far as Arteta’s chices are concerned, he did get players who have done well : Ramsdale, Tierney, Tomy, Oodegard to name just these.

    As for the ‘well-run’ comment, I don’t know, but considering the Emirates has been pretty much paid for thanks to Mr Wenger claiming the not a trophy trophy year after year, IMHO this comment is not fact based but rehash of old grievances that should be said on AFTV not written on a blog that tries to present facts.

  7. Tierney was not an Arteta signing, btw. The post-wenger period has witnessed several changes of direction in the management, scouting and signing departments, and this has resulted in the signing of players deemed less than useful by the current manger. It’s a pity that the club has not been very good at getting value for the departures, and that the current manager made it his business to conduct his relations with out-of-favour players in the full light of the media, and it is right to question and criticize the club for it’s inability to get better outcomes in the transfer market. In the end, though, stability, both of manager, scouting department and football/commercial management should mean less of the waste we have seen over the past 4-5 years.

  8. @ Rob,

    I was wrong on Tierney then ;=)

    Absolutely agree with you on the stability side. On the ‘in light of the media’, we must however not forget that there are 2 parties involved and that the player is using all he can as well to paint the situation in a light that is better for him. Considering how the media has treated Arsenal in the past, I am just not enclined to believe that in each and every contract situation they are the horrible-despicable-disgusting-incompetent-bad guys. And quite often ‘in the full light of the media’ is nothing but toilet-newspapers speculating, lying, inventing and reproducing their crap amongst themselves, thus creating a trove of crap they can recycle over and over in the coming years.
    Do you believe that the hundreds of loanees Chelsea have had over the last decade did have a good life and successfull career and were all having a great time dealing with Chelsea management ? I do have my doubts.

    A new coach comes in and plays a different strategy and some players find themselves out of their comfort zone and some feel they are not playing how they were hired to. Some cannot/want not to adapt and want out yet have a long term contract. That is how football works. And some players have peaked before coming, or before re-signing. Happens everywhere.

    Interestingly it is only Arsenal who are lambasted over and over again about something that is normal – in the case of Arsenal we could say it was ab-normal as Mr Wenger did his magic for 2 decades.

    And I agree that before some stability came in, there were problems. And lets not forget that Emery had the best winning record after Mr Wenger.

  9. maybe trimming and clearing the wage bill of the previous regime is the club currently (under Josh, Mikel and Edu) been undertaking (quite successful)

  10. maybe trimming and clearing the wage bill of the previous regime is the club currently (under Josh, Mikel and Edu) been undertaking (quite successful), are the main concern and priority rather than fee receive for players transfer

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *