Arsene Wenger believes Arsenal’s chances of keeping their big names content rest mainly on their ability to regularly challenge for the game’s biggest honours.
The Gunners have seen many of their star players plucked away over the years with Cesc Fabregas, Samir Nasri and Robin van Persie all quitting the club in search of trophy success elsewhere.
And with the likes of Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Ozil and Hector Bellerin mentioned as targets for the game’s big spenders, Wenger knows exactly what must be done to keep their best players at the club.
Ozil and Sanchez are both currently on around £140,000-a-week and will be offered deals approaching £200,000 but, according to Wenger, it is Arsenal’s on-field progress that will prove decisive.
“I think these kind of players can raise a little bit above the financial aspect of the game because they are not poor and they have to look really on the football side,” he said.
“Do the club meet their needs on the football front and if ‘yes’ then a Premier League club can find an agreement with the players.”
Arsenal are certainly now in a stronger position both on and off the pitch. Their squad has an experience and depth that was ultimately lacking in the Fabregas era while their financial firepower has been enhanced significantly since 2014 following a wave of new commercial deals that are no longer tied to funding the construction of the Emirates.
Arsenal, then, can get closer to what Europe’s absolute elite might offer although Wenger stressed that there would be a ceiling. “We still keep the values we have and we pay what we can afford,” he said.
“We have a scale of wages but it has become a bit more individual. It has always been difficult to keep the good players. They are wanted by other clubs and it’s normal they try to get the maximum out of their negotiations because they have 10 years to play at the top level if all goes well. My whole life I fight to get the players paid as much as I can.
“Basically when they sign a contract for four years, they sign for two because of the simple fact that just to keep the value of the player you have to extend the contract.”
Wenger on retaining star men
Wenger had suggested at the weekend that Arsenal would have to break the bank to keep their best players, but was confident Ozil would commit his future to the north London club.
“If you have a good bank, call me,” Wenger joked following the 3-2 win against Swansea.
“I don’t think he needs convincing. He wants to stay here.
“It’s not just money. Arsenal can win titles of course. But that’s what we have to show. We are in a league where Man City, Man United, Liverpool, Tottenham, Chelsea everybody fights and you cannot guarantee that to anybody.
“We keep that [negotiations] discreet. At due time we will come out with that. We want to keep our best players, of course. But the more I say that, the more he is in a stronger position.”
Cazorla on Bellerin
Wenger said last week that the Gunners would look to tie Bellerin down to an improved contract, and team-mate Cazorla says the club must rebuff any approaches for the full-back.
“It is clear that Hector is the right-back of the future,” Cazorla told IBTimes UK.
“You could see in the victory over Swansea how good he is. He was all over the place and never stopped running.
“For Arsenal it would be a mistake to let him go. It is obvious that many teams want him. There has been talk about Manchester City and Barcelona.
“He is a player with great potential and I am sure he will also be a key part of the future of the Spanish national team.”