Paul Merson urges Arsenal to plan two major summer sales amid concern for current Arteta plan

Former Arsenal player Paul Merson, Sky Sports pundit,. tips Villa to sell star

Paul Merson has urged Arsenal to begin negotiating new contracts for Emile Smith Rowe and Bukayo Saka – while also getting ready to sell them.

The two attackers have become cornerstones of the Gunners’ team under boss Mikel Arteta following their rise from the academy. Saka emerged first in 2019, while Smith Rowe enjoyed his breakthrough last term.

However, both are now vital assets to Arsenal as the club hunt a top-four Premier League finish. In fact, the pair have directly contributed a total of 22 top-flight goals this season.

Nevertheless, concern over their futures at Arsenal is beginning to emerge. Saka’s contract has the least amount of time to run and expires in 2024, while Smith Rowe’s latest deal – signed last year – runs out in 2026.

And the immediate concern around Saka’s future has become more prevalent given the recent record of players running down their contracts at Arsenal. The likes of Mesut Ozil and Jack Wilshere have added to the club’s reputation in recent years.

As a result, Merson has insisted that Arsenal should open immediate negotiations with Saka and Smith Rowe. If they do not want to sign new deals, Merson added that the Gunners should move the duo on.

“They are top drawer and they are going to be vital to Arsenal finishing in the top four this season,” Merson wrote for the Daily Star.

“But I think Arsenal should get them tied down now.

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“They should be talking now about five year contracts. Get them signed, and if they don’t want to sign, then sell them in the summer.

“Don’t hang around and let them run their contracts down and let them go for next to nothing. Test the water because there will be teams chasing them.”

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Saka has made no secret of his desire to play Champions League football, which will likely factor into his decision.

As for where he could move, though, Liverpool and Manchester City have had links with a swoop for Saka.

Saka, Smith Rowe not only Arsenal issues

Alexandre Lacazette and Bukayo Saka celebrate

While Saka and Smith Rowe are crucial for both the present and future of Arsenal, there are other more pressing concerns at the Emirates Stadium.

Indeed, striker duo Alexandre Lacazette and Eddie Nketiah are into the final six months of their contracts. They will, as it stands, leave as free agents in the summer.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has already left – on a free transfer to Barcelona in January. As such, Gabriel Martinelli has reportedly been training as a No. 9.

However, Arsenal have had a long-term plan to sign a new striker. They tried to sign Dusan Vlahovic in January, but he moved to Juventus from Fiorentina instead.

The likes of Alexander Isak and Dominic Calvert-Lewin have had links with the Gunners ahead of the summer.