Arsenal must offer Sagna contract to prevent him joining fair-weather friends


Arsenal defender Bacary Sagna is contracted to the end of the season as the club continues to negotiate with the France international over a new deal.

The 30-year-old's display on Saturday away at Selhurst Park against Crystal Palace demonstrated exactly why the club should be bending over backwards to accommodate the requirements of one of their most loyal servants – just as he accommodates theirs.

Sagna arrived at the Emirates in 2007 and has, for the most part, been a constant calm in what has been a turbulent storm for Arsenal over the last eight years without a trophy.

He has been one of the most committed, focused and consistent fullbacks in the Premier League for half a decade, despite two serious bone breaks and a subsequent drop in performance level last term, he has yet again proven himself one of the most important members in Wenger’s team.

One of Sagna’s best performances in recent memory was when the Gunners went down to ten men at Sunderland last season – the Frenchman filled in at centre back, which again he did this season to cover Laurent Koscielny from suspension and then injury.

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Physically and technically, there aren’t many (if any) better fullbacks equipped for the Premier League than Sagna and Saturday’s performance was an apt demonstration of that, especially in the second half.

Sagna was 100% successful in his two attempted tackles, 100% successful in his five attempted clearances, 100% successful in his three attempted headed clearances, made two crucial interceptions, one in his own penalty area and one high up the pitch, and, under pressure at 1-0 up and one man down, he was 100% successful in his two aerial duels. He made not one single error all game long.

His overall pass completion rate over 90 minutes was 88.4% successful and, interestingly, after the sending off, his pass completion rate shot up to 93.3% – he misplaced just one pass after Arteta was dismissed and that was a long ball up to Olivier Giroud that narrowly avoided the French striker’s control.

If that isn’t worth a new contract, I don’t know what is – not just the performance on Saturday, either, but the quality, commitment, consistency and loyalty demonstrated across the last six years. Amidst the tide of players who have abandoned and absconded - the fair-weather friends they've seen come and go over the last six years - Sagna has remained present and correct at all times.

On top of which, at 30 years old, he is one of the most experienced senior players, a staple of the Arsenal back four, a leader and a total professional. He’s the kind of character who should be up for captain’s armband. His contract offer should reflect how important Bacary Sagna is to Arsenal and Arsene Wenger and that’s as close as it gets to indispensable.

image: © Ronnie Macdonald

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