News broke yesterday that David Luiz was unlikely to extend his time at Arsenal by longer than one season.
When the Brazilian made the surprising move from West to North London last summer, the news was that he signed a 2 year deal. It transpires that it was a 1 year deal with Arsenal having an option to extend for a second year.
Having started 25 out of 28 Premier League games, Luiz has been a key player under both Unai Emery and Mikel Arteta. It is therefore surprising to most that Arsenal seem to be happy to let him go.
The truth is he has become a victim of Covid19 and the impact it will have on the transfer market.
With football likely to be played behind closed doors for at least some of next season, clubs across Europe have lost the season ticket revenue that usually hits the accounts at the beginning of June.
To Arsenal, that season ticket revenue is around £75million – with total match day revenue £100million. That is a huge chunk of cash that Arsenal, and other clubs, will miss out on.
Lack of season ticket money will have a huge impact on what clubs can spend this summer; and also limits the money they have available to pay in wages on new players.
Teams across Europe are not going to be able to spend the £100s of millions they have been in recent summers – and gone are the days when mid table teams like West Ham, Crystal Palace, Everton, etc are offering players £100k a week or more.
If teams do not have the money to buy players, or match wages, it also means clubs will be unable to sell unwanted players. And that is the situation Arsenal find themselves in.
Arsenal currently have 8 “senior” central defenders: David Luiz, Shkodran Mustafi, Sokratis, Rob Holding and Calum Chambers. Kostadinos Mavropanos and William Saliba are currently out on loan, with Pablo Mari at the club on loan.
You do not need 8 central defenders, at most you need 5.
Arsenal need to cut numbers.
It has nothing to do with money and everything to do with having too many central defenders.
Of the 8 defenders at the club, at least 3 will need to leave. If we were to sign a new defender, 4 would be out the door.
The first one out will be Pablo Mari; although he would also be first in line if we were to sign someone.
Arsenal would probably prefer to keep David Luiz ahead of Sokratis and Shkodran Mustafi; but Covid19 will make those two very hard to sell.
Both players are on around £90,000 a week. With limited finances across Europe; it is not foreseeable that other clubs will be able to pick up the tab and offer players parity in wages – even if Arsenal wavered any transfer fee.
The likelihood is that Mustafi and Sokratis will see out the last year of their contracts.
If Mustsfi and Sokratis remain, alongside Saliba, that is 3 of the 5 central defenders we need next season. That leaves Mavropanos, Holding, Chambers and Luiz.
Mavropanos moved to Bundesliga 2 side Nürnberg in January. At this time of his career, spending an entire season on loan would be ideal next season.
Holding and Chambers both have the advantage of being home grown, and are on less money combined that David Luiz.
That leaves Arsenal with the tough decision to let David Luiz leave.
With the Brazilian out of contract, and Arsenal needing to cut numbers, he becomes an easy option to let go.
Luiz leaving and Mavropanos loaned out brings Arsenal down to 5 central defenders. Were Arsenal to then bring in someone (Mari or someone else), another would have to leave. Rob Holding most likely.
David Luiz is certainly not the defender Arsenal want to leave; but Covid19 has changed the situation.