It has been reported several times over the past 12 months that Arsenal are in talks with club stars Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil regarding extensions to the players’ current contracts which expire in 2018.
Despite the fact that there are two years left to run on their contracts, the Londoners’ manager Arsene Wenger is keen to tie down the long-term future of his two most important players in order to avoid potential interest from other suitors while also protecting their value.
The German, who arrived from Real Madrid on summer transfer deadline day in 2013, provided the highest number of assists last season (19) and the Chilean, who arrived at the Emirates in 2014, has been brilliant in front of goal for the Gunners.
Recent reports however, claimed that Ozil and Sanchez are stalling on contract talks and demanding wages close to £250,000-a-week. This is over 40% higher than both players’ current deals – valued at £140,000 per week and £130,000 per week respectively.
While Arsenal fans are keen for the club to ensure that their prized assets are not snatched away - even if it means altering the existing salary structure and offering a hike as per the players’ demands – former player Perry Groves seems to think differently.
“Have Arsenal got the money to spend? Yes they have. Will they get the £250,000 a week they are looking for? I don’t think they will get that,” Groves was quoted as saying in an interview.
In the same vein, he continued, “They won't get the money Wayne Rooney, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Pogba are on. That's not going to happen as the club have a different wage structure [to Manchester United].”
Groves isn’t too far from the truth.
Arsenal’s salary structure has been in place for a while and the band - the gap between the players’ wages - is said to be very narrow in comparison to that at other elite clubs.
Any changes to this or acceding to the former La Liga stars’ demands might set the cat among the pigeons and prompt a host of other players to follow suit.
With the likes of Jack Wilshire, Santi Cazorla, Theo Walcott, Laurent Koscielny and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain all up for contract renewals in the near future, Wenger may have a call to make.
In the meantime, Groves urged Ozil and Sanchez to be more realistic about their expectations.
“But if they were realistic about their demands then I don't see any reason why they shouldn't sign new contracts.”
He also added that contract talks should not come in the way of play and that both players should concentrate on their game.
"Sanchez is enjoying his football and playing well. Ozil was a slow burner but now they are the two big players.”
Whether or not Wenger and the ownership will be willing to disturb the club’s well-oiled wage machinery is something fans will have to wait and watch. Ozil and Sanchez are instrumental to the club’s pursuit of silverware and Gunners supporters will hope for the two to put pen to paper sooner than later.