For several summers Arsenal have had to battle to keep their best players and have invariably lost the fight.
This summer, however, Arsenal have managed to keep all of their regular first-team players, whilst offloading a number of unwanted and or disused fringe players as well as a number of youngsters – they have so far held on to all of their most valued personnel.
Last summer it was star striker and captain Robin van Persie and midfielder Alex Song who were sold to Manchester United and Barcelona, respectively. The previous summer, Arsenal sold captain Cesc Fabregas to Barcelona and Samir Nasri and Gael Clichy to Manchester City.
Two summers before that in 2009, the Gunners sold both Kolo Toure and Emmanuel Adebayor to Manchester City, in 2008 Alexander Hleb joined Barcelona and Mathieu Flamini absconded on a free transfer.
This summer, as we approach the start of the new season, it appears that Arsenal will keep together almost their entire first-team squad exactly as it was last term – the only notable departures will be Gervinho who failed to impress, Francis Coquelin who goes out on loan after failing to cement his status, Marouane Chamakh who barely featured, Andrei Arshavin who barely featured, Vito Mannone who failed to cement his place and Andre Santos who underperformed.
There had been the scent in the air approaching this summer that fullback Bacary Sagna may be headed for the exit but it would now appear the Frenchman is likely to stay and sign a new contract at the Emirates.
Laurent Koscielny was briefly linked with Barcelona and Bayern Munich but that was short-lived speculation and apart from those exceptions, it’s been a relaxed and stable off-season for the North Londoners and this has seemed to pay off in their pre-season friendlies – all of which have been victories by quite substantial margins.
However, travel up to Merseyside and the story is very different – and all too familiar. Brendan Rodgers is having one of the most tense summer’s of his career I expect clubs come in the quest to lure Liverpool’s best players away from Anfield.
Arsenal have been openly and audaciously chasing star striker Luis Suarez and now this week it appears Barcelona are sniffing around centre-back Daniel Agger. Long-serving goalkeeper Pepe Reina has been loaned out to Napoli due to the arrival of Simon Mignolet from Sunderland.
Of course, Rodgers hasn’t been sitting there twiddling his thumbs – he has made some very astute purchases to add strength and depth to the Reds’ squad in the form of Luis Alberto, Iago Aspas, Kolo Toure and Mignolet.
But, with deadline day looming just after the start of the new season this weekend, Rodgers may find himself clutching to his key assets on the brink of despair as the clock strikes midnight on September 2nd. That is a situation Arsene Wenger knows all to well down in North London.
image: © kong niffe