Arsenal have announced that defender Per Mertesacker and midfielder Tomas Rosicky have both signed new contracts to keep them at the north London club, although the future of Bacary Sagna has been thrown into even further doubt as a new deal was not announced for the right-back.
Mertesacker has become an integral figure in the Gunners defence, with the Germany international forming a strong partnership with fellow centre-back Laurent Koscielny. Having joined Arsenal in 2011, Mertesacker was contracted until the end of next season, but fans will be delighted that he has elected to extend his deal beyond the summer of 2015.
Rosicky meanwhile has been rewarded for his hard work and recent impressive form, having started and finished a sublime goal in the 4-1 victory over Sunderland two weekends’ ago.
Arsenal players who could leave the Emirates this summer
Arsenal players who could leave the Emirates this summer
1/8 Lukasz Fabianski
The Pole looks set to end his frustrating spell with the Gunners having spent the bulk of his time in north London as an understudy. Having joined the club in 2007 from Legia Warsaw, Fabianski has made just 31 Premier League appearances, having seen firstly Manuel Almunia and Jens Lehmann ahead of him before his compatriot Wojciech Szczesny took over between the sticks at the Emirates. Despite brief chances to make his first-team claim, injury and costly mistakes has seen Arsene Wenger lose patience with the 28-year-old, and he is likely to try and resurrect his career elsewhere.
2/8 Bacary Sagna
The biggest name who looks likely to leave the Emirates this season after contract negotiations reportedly broke down between the club and the Frenchman. Wenger’s policy to offer over-30’s a one-year extension only looks set to rob him of yet another experienced player, having seen players such as Robert Pires head for pastures new when contract talks broke down. Carl Jenkinson has shown potential that he can step up and replace Sagna, but his development is far from complete and would see one of Arsenal’s stronger positions severely weakened.
3/8 Nicklas Bendtner
The frustrating figure that is Nicklas Bendtner has looked happier at Arsenal this season than in recent years, but he is almost certain to be allowed to leave after failing to fulfil his promise that saw him held in such high esteem by Wenger back in 2004. Stints away from the club haven’t produced much in terms of success in front of goal, and Wenger’s desire to bring in a new striker looks to be the final nail in his almost buried Gunners coffin.
4/8 Kim Kallstrom
Kallstrom was Wenger’s surprise January signing, having moved to sign the Swedish international on deadline day on a loan until the end of the season. Arsenal fans got an even bigger surprise – not to mention an unwelcomed one – the following day when the 31-year-old was immediately ruled out for six weeks with an existing back injury. His stay is not expected to continue beyond the summer.
5/8 Emiliano Viviano
Brought in to provide competition with Szczesny and Fabianski, Viviano was one of Wenger’s few summer signings having been acquired on a season-long loan deal with a view to a permanent move. But the Italian has failed to make a single appearance this season, and looks likely to return to Palermo when his deal expires – although there is a hefty £5m clause to make the move permanent on top of the £1m paid for the initial loan.
6/8 Thomas Vermaelen
The Arsenal club captain is contracted until 2015, but he has spent the bulk of the past two seasons on the bench as Per Mertesacker and Laurent Koscielny have struck up a formidable partnership. Despite admitting he is happy at the Emirates, he has confirmed that he will look at the situation if he remains out of favour. Having burst onto the Premier League when he joined the club in 2009, injury hampered the Belgian and he soon fell out of favour when Koscielny joined Mertesackker in the heart of the defence.
7/8 Lukas Podolski
The German’s run-out against Sunderland on the weekend was just the fifth time in his Arsenal career that Podolski has completed 90 minutes. While he exuberates the feel-good atmosphere currently surrounding the Gunners squad, and is part of an ever-growing number of Germans under Wenger’s guidance, he could lose patience with his inconsistency when it comes to first team selection.
8/8 Arsene Wenger
The manager himself is yet to commit to a new contract, and while his extension is expected imminently (it may already be a case of deal-done) he future cannot be made clear until an announcement is made. A collapse during their difficult March schedule could see a new contract thrown into jeopardy.
The Czech Republic captain endured an injury-hit start to his Gunners career after joining the club in 2006 following the World Cup in Germany, but has gone on to become a key part of Arsene Wenger’s plans, with the Arsenal manager showing a preference to starting Rosicky in the Gunners’ biggest matches.
Despite Rosicky entering the latter years of his contract – the midfielder turns 34 in October this year – Wenger has shown a desire to keep him at the Emirates, with his previous contract expiring at the end of this season.
“We are delighted that Mertesacker and Rosicky have committed their futures to the club,Wenger told the club’s official website.
“They are players of exceptional quality and experience, and have consistently proven themselves at the highest level. There is a great feeling of togetherness and belief in the group and this news will only help to strengthen this further.”
Mertesacker provides the Arsenal squad with a wealth of experience, having made 95 appearances for Germany since making his international debut in 2004. The 6ft 6in defender revealed that he feels “a real Gunner” and stressed his proudness at being tied down to the club until 2017.
“It was easy for me to commit myself to the club,” Mertesacker said.
“I have been here for two-and-a-half great years and feel I have great support from everyone at the club and the fans. I'm really looking forward to having more years coming up with this fantastic club. We have a great team here and we all want to do our best to win trophies.
“I have become a real Gunner...I am truly thankful to the club and all the supporters for the time I have had here so far. And today I am deeply proud to have extended my contract with Arsenal. I'm proud to be a Gunner.”
Mertesacker even posted a picture on his official Twitter account of him as a young boy wearing an Arsenal shirt, captioned: “ As a young boy and now-very proud to be a gunner! Thanks fans for your support. Happy to have extended with @Arsenal”
Rosicky also stressed his happiness at extending his contract by an additional two years, and despite the addition this season of Mesut Ozil plus the rapid improvement of Aaron Ramsey, Rosicky has gone on to make 27 appearances already this season when it did look first-team opportunities could pass him by this season.
“I'm very happy that I'm staying at the club,” Rosicky said. “ I'm proud that I'm still here after a long time and that it still continues. I'm glad I'm here at Arsenal and we're all trying our best to win trophies for the club and our supporters.
“Ever since I arrived at Arsenal, I have always felt that I'm at the right place where I want to be. I still feel this way now and I'm proud that after such a long time I'm still here and will continue. One big factor is that I want to win the league with Arsenal.”
The news does make Sagna’s exit appear much more likely this summer though with the Frenchman’s contract expiring at the end of the season. Arsenal have shown a preference in the past to announce multiple new contracts at the same time – last season’s announcement of five new deals for home-grown stars Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Jack Wilshere, Aaron Ramsey, Kieran Gibbs and Carl Jenkinson is a prime example – but it is believed that talks remain at a stalemate over Sagna’s future.
Another whose future remains unclear is Wenger himself. The 64-year-old is expected to take his reign at the club into an 18th year, though many thought an announcement over a contract extension was due weeks ago.
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