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Now Begins the Summer of Arsenal’s Discontent

The Premier League season to forget is over. Arsenal will head off after the weekend FA Cup final. But even with that day out at Wembley on the cards, the summer looms large over Arsenal. Either way you look at it, this is a summer that could have an effect on the long-term fortunes of the club.

Arsene’s Contract Saga

In yesterday’s final post-match (league) presser, Wenger admitted that uncertainty of his status may have affected the squad’s push for a Champion’s League spot. Yes, that was likely part of it but that’s for another time.

Still, not knowing what is going on with Arsene at this point can only be seen as hampering the club’s direction. Without a commitment from him (or the club) it makes having plans for the summer transfers virtually impossible.

If Wenger decides to leave, a new manager might have different transfer targets than Arsene. Additionally, a new manager may want time to get acclimated so they aren’t rushed into the pre-season and have to jump right when Arsenal are heading out to their commercial tour duty.

We obviously know what it means if Arsene stays. But if he does then the club has to enforce some new norms on the manager who has had absolute power. They can’t let him go unchecked as Arsenal continue to slip further and further away from their status as an elite European club.

If Wenger is to stay, then the day of his signing they have to announce the new structure in place that will hold him accountable for what happens to the team. They can’t get that in place if they don’t know if Wenger is here or not. That structure could in fact be different under a new manager. The new manager might be someone who would accept just being the manager and let a Director of Football handle all the other nuances of running the club.

Either way without resolution in Arsene’s contract situation, we continue to twist in the wind without a sense of direction or purpose.

Player Contracts

Eight first team players, including Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Özil all enter this summer on the last year of their contracts without so much as a sniff as to whether or not they intend to extend.

Prevaling thought is that Sanchez goes and Özil stays. But again it’s a situation that is very much likely linked to the first one. Some of these players have publicly expressed loyalty and admiration for Wenger so it could be that they are holding on to making a decision until they know what is going on with the boss.

I hold no hope that Sanchez extends and depending on who comes in for a bid and for how much, I could see a scenario where Arsenal hold on to him and let him go on a bosman next year. Given his upturn in performances that would be bad on so many levels for Arsenal.

Ideally, if Arsenal were smart (we aren’t certain on that point) they’d make a deal with Sanchez – extend with the club, help us get back into the Champion’s League and if you still want to leave – we’ll let you go (to select buyers) AND make some money off of it.

The bigger point though is how can a club allow 8 players, even if they are of varying importance to the club to go into a final year of contract without clarity on their tenure with the club.

Surely some will be sold but the more important players, like Özil, Sanchez, Chamberlain, and Aaron Ramsey should’ve had some sort of movement towards either a new deal or being told – feck off you’re being sold (in fairness to Ramsey and Chamberlain they may have been told the latter.)

The fact is like Wenger’s situation the hapless way our club is run from all stations has led us down this rabbit hole of uncertainty. Combined together, Arsenal look as stable as a drunk jenga game.

Usmanov’s Bid

The latest wave to hit Arsenal was news over the weekend that Alisher Usmanov a month ago had lodged a bid of £1bn ($1.3bn) to buyout Stan Kroenke. KSE responded that their shares in Arsenal were not for sale and they viewed themselves as long-term investors and wanted to see Arsenal returned to glory.

Couple of problems with that last part of that statement but we will get to that in a moment.

Now in addition to an unsettled manager and unsettled player situations, we now have an ownership challenge ongoing. And make no mistake the offer being quoted is just an opening salvo. Usmanov has proven himself a shrewd business man and he knows that offer is lower than the club’s overall value.

Additionally, this morning it was reported that Josh Kroenke (Stan’s son) and other board members were imploring Stan to negotiate an offer. Whether that’s true or not remains to be seen but it’s setting the table for a summer of intrigue that just piles on to the fans who just want to see Arsenal have some time of peace and calm in terms of its operations on and off the field.

With regard to KSE seeing Arsenal returned to glory, I find that quite ironic as the slow slide to mediocrity has largely been done under their stewardship. If they were that concerned about our return to glory than just seeing us an investment and actually being an active participant (and not letting us get into the situation we’re in right now) would maybe go a long way to showing their true intent.

But alas KSE just views as another “prize” in their collection of sports teams. They truly don’t care about the success of their teams, just so long as value can be derived from it.

Hopefully, Usmanov goes all Vito Corleone and makes him an offer he can’t refuse. While I am no fan of the Uzbeks, right now I am willing to try anything.

KSE has allowed this conflux of craptastic events to happen and throw this great club into turmoil. We sit on tumultuous times my friends and to paraphrase Will Shakespeare (Gold member, Clock End) – Now Begins the Summer of Our Discontent.

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