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    The Arsenal in-box and the contractual to-do list

    Saturday.

    I forgot to do a thing which highlighted how close football was to returning at the start of yesterday’s blog. I suppose that means I should do two today, but I can’t think of two so you’ll have to make do with one and that emptiness you definitely felt yesterday over a feature I only introduced a few days ago will have to be filled with something else. Like exercise, a bacon sandwich, or a cream bun.

    Here’s today’s one: In just four days, I won’t ever have to do one of these again because the Arsenal will be back!

    As we prepare for The Reintroduction of the Soccerificantion of our Association Football Lives, there are some things involving the squad that need to be handled. The decisions rest with them upstairs, but obviously what Mikel Arteta wants will play a serious part in it. We have some players with contractual issues, because their deals end at the end of June and football is going to be played into July and hopefully August, if we reach the FA Cup final.

    Stories emerged yesterday saying we had yet to find an agreement with Cedric Soares, which isn’t that surprising, but let’s look at what’s on Raul’s to-do list ahead of next week.

    Cedric Soares

    Very surprisingly signed from Southampton in a deal which will ultimately cost us around £5m in total (a similar amount to the Denis Saurez deal we ‘masterminded’ last January). The surprise of doing the deal in the first place was exacerbated by the fact he was injured, with not insignificant knee problem. He wasn’t fit before lockdown, and has played no part in the two friendly games because he appears to have some kind of facial injury now – requiring him to wear one of those protective masks.

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    We still have ten Premier League games, plus potentially three more in the FA Cup and he was signed as back-up for a then struggling Hector Bellerin, so you could make a case that the deal could be extended, but if it’s going to cost us more money, it makes what was already a poor deal even more so.

    However, the fact he’s out of contract at Southampton means they’re hardly going to offer him a new deal, and if we want back-up for Bellerin it’s an easy one to make happen. If he does join permanently, do we get another not at all sinister contract signing picture with Uncle Kia?

    Update: Apparently the situation isn’t quite that simple.

    To do or not to do: Personally NOT but I think Arsenal will DO.

    Pablo Mari

    Another January loan signing, he came from Flamengo (eventually), after some issues with money saw him return to Brazil without completing the deal first time around. No doubt Raul Sanllehi’s close relationship with his agent (Arturo Canales – the man who represented Unai Emery and helped bring him to Arsenal), helped us overcome any final snags.

    His path to the Premier League has been circuitous, it’s fair to say. He’s spent most of his career in the Spanish second division, but flourished in Brazil – albeit with the best team in the country. Tim Stillman, in a column on Mari, described them thusly: ‘Flamengo [are] … miles ahead of their domestic counterparts, easily winning the Brasileirão and then the Copa Libertadores.’

    Which is to say that we don’t really know what we’re going to get from him yet. At 26 he’s a good age; he’s got height and physical presence that could be very useful; his passing range is superb and having a left footed centre-half is something Mikel Arteta is very keen on. Also, when it comes to doing deals, this one is about as uncomplicated as it gets – particularly when we think about what the transfer market is going to be like.

    To do or not to do: DO

    David Luiz

    The Brazilian’s first season at Arsenal could cost us up to £24m between transfer fee, intermediary fees and wages, according to Amy Lawrence’s story in the Athletic. Kia Joorabchian, Luiz’s agent, has denied those figures. The story, it should be strongly pointed out, has not been taken down.

    Arsenal have an option to extend Luiz’s deal for another year, again though you have to wonder what are the ins and outs of that and how much will it cost? Will we have to pay some kind of loyalty bonus? If that sounds ridiculous, this is a club that negotiated a Champions League bonus with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang but despite the fact we’ve never played in that competition since his arrival, we still pay him that money.

    Of the three senior defenders whose futures remain clouded (Sokratis and Shkodran Mustafi are entering the final years of their respective deals), I think I’d be more inclined to keep Luiz and sack off the other two, but their situations don’t require an immediate decision.

    It’s not an easy one, the prospects of selling either or both of Sokratis/Mustafi are much slimmer because of the financial crisis football is about to experience, so if we do extend Luiz we’ll have those three plus the aforementioned Pablo Mari, as well as Rob Holding, Calum Chambers (currently injured), Dinos Mavropanos (on loan at FC Nürnberg) and the incoming William Saliba. That’s too many central defenders.

    To do or not to do: I think the fact Arteta seems to like him will swing this to a DO but it wouldn’t surprise if it was a NOT because of the circumstances involving other players.

    Dani Ceballos

    Arsenal wouldn’t provide any details whatsoever when I inquired about this last week, saying they would never comment on contracts. I mean, I wasn’t asking for the nuts and bolts, just wondering if we’d come to an agreement with Real Madrid to ensure he can play out the rest of the season with us. Still, my understanding is that this is the case, and Ceballos will stay until the end.

    To do or not to do: Done (we think).

    In an Arseblog News article, Andrew Allen points out that goalkeeper Matt Macey is also out of contract this June, but having reached 25 years of age with just 2 first team appearances under his belt (both of them in the 2017-18 season), it seems almost certain he’ll have to find a new club.

    So, there you go. The deadline for contract extensions as set out by the Premier League is June 23rd, so decisions have to be made by then. Let’s see what happens.

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