Ray Parlour warns grim Arsenal recent history could bite Arteta and spring major downfall if he is not careful

Ray Parlour, November 2021

Ray Parlour has stressed the importance of Arsenal tying Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli to new contracts to continue the club’s progress.

The Gunners have built slowly over recent years and stuck with manager Mikel Arteta when times got tough. Indeed, Arteta kept his job despite calls to get the sack after failing on a top-four Premier League finish last season.

However, Arsenal stressed that their progress matched their aims at the time. And any doubt over the Spaniard’s future has dissipated amid the club’s recent form.

The north London side are keeping pace with champions Manchester City at the top. And wingers Saka and Martinelli have been at the heart of their progress. The 21-year-old and 20-year-old duo starred in last weekend’s win over Liverpool, that game a 90-minute reflection of their importance.

Both players have revealed they want to sign new contracts, with Martinelli detailing his love for the club.

Nevertheless, they have not yet signed on the dotted line. And that has led former Arsenal star Parlour to recognise former players who left in frustrating circumstances.

“We’ve seen it happen so many times at Arsenal where people have gone on free transfers,” the pundit told talkSPORT.

“Back in the day [Robin] van Persie – free transfer more or less. We had to sell him with a year left [on his contract].

“[Samir] Nasri was in the same situation. So now you’ve got to highlight who you want to keep, who’s your players going forward.”

Arsenal need new Saka, Martinelli contracts

Parlour added that many top teams will come in for England international Saka, whose current deal runs out in 2024.

And he called on Arsenal to tie down Martinelli too. The Brazilian’s deal also expires in 2024, but there is an option to extend his terms by a year.

“I’m sure there’ll be so much interest for Saka. All the big big boys will come in and try to sign him,” Parlour said.

“So now sit down with him, get him on a good contract. Martinelli’s in the same boat – they’ve got to try to nail him down as well.

“[Emile] Smith Rowe has just signed a new contract. I know he’s injured at the moment but you’ve got to try and get these youngsters to sign up and believe that in two or three years time, this club is going somewhere.”

Gunners need to secure their present and future

Saka and Martinelli are both the present and the future of Arsenal, hence the importance of tying the pair down to new contracts.

Saka has scored four goals and assisted four others in 12 appearances this season.

Martinelli, meanwhile, has hit four and two in those categories.

But it is their work off the ball which is so vital to Arsenal too – their runs off the ball and desire to get stuck in with the defending work.

And all this is without referencing again that they are still in the very early years of their career and still have a lot to learn.