“There are some non-negotiables. The demands we put on the team, the commitment, the energy we put in, that dominance” – Mikel Arteta, December 2019.
“We need a team with 100 per cent of people involved in what we do. The most important thing they should have is respect, the second is commitment and the third one is passion. Those three ingredients are non-negotiable” – Mikel Arteta, August 2021.
Since becoming manager of the club, Arteta has spoken a few times about how important commitment to the club is for him. But it is a lack of commitment from both players and the club which could derail our season before it gets into Autumn and ultimately end up costing Arteta his job.
But I have never known an Arsenal squad to be less committed to the club than the one we have, or the club less committed to its players.
The majority of the players at the club either want to leave, have been told they can leave if an offer comes in, or have previously been cast aside.
Starting in goal; it is well known that Bernd Leno will not sign a new contract and wants to end his career in Germany. He still has two years left on that deal.
After being backed by Arteta in the battle for number ones with Emi Martinez, to then refuse to discuss a new deal is really disappointing.
So we end up with a number one who has an eye on leaving in the next 12 months.
Runar Alex Runarsson will go down as one of the clubs worst signings. So out of his depth. Not his fault. He just is not good enough.
The door is open for him to leave, whether on loan or permanent, but there are no takers.
Hector Bellerin’s time at Arsenal has clearly run its course. He needs a new challenge and Arsenal need a new right back.
It is beneficial for both parties that Bellerin leaves this summer and it is clear both he can the club have been looking for suitors. But none have materialised.
How many times over the years have we tried to sell Calum Chambers?
We have seen him go out on loan to Fulham and Middlesbrough both nearly joining Crystal Palace. We could have made it much clearer over the last 5 years that he is not wanted out the club. Yet there he was, starting the first game of the season.
Rob Holding nearly joined Newcastle last summer.
It was only a last minute u-turn by Arteta that saw him not only stay at the club but also sign a new deal. From being on the verge of exiting one week to wearing the captains armband not too long after. Not the only time it has happened.
As for Saed Kolasinac; most are probably surprised he is still here.
Told he wasn’t wanted last summer; the Bosnian ended up putting his feet up for 6 months before leaving to Schalke on loan.
A summer later and we are in exactly the same position with him. He doesn’t want to be here, we don’t want him here, but no one wants him.
If you think the Rob Holding u-turn was big, the Granit Xhaka one was huge.
Xhaka has abused the fans, thrown the captains arm band on the ground, demanded to leave. And yet on the first day of the season he is still at Arsenal. Wearing the captains armband and signed a new deal.
Now I like Xhaka as a player. I think he gets an unfair press. But how can you be so close to leaving the club, and then be rewarded with a new deal and captaincy? It sums the club up.
Mohamed Elneny is another who went from “no longer required” to “important squad member” in a blink of an eye.
He spent he spent 2019/20 on loan at Besiktas as no one wanted to sign him, having started just 5 Premier League games the campaign before.
Then last season he started 17 Premier League games.
Another who has gone from not wanted to regular player despite still not really being wanted.
Ainsley Maitland-Niles was on the cusp of joining Wolves last summer. A last minute change of mind by Arteta (is indecisiveness a trait of his?) saw him stay. He then started just 5 games.
In January we turned down a bid from Leicester City as we “did not want to sell to a rival” and he ended the season on loan at WBA.
He is still at the club. He still doesn’t want to be here. Arteta still doesn’t want him.
The door is open for Willian to leave.
He has reportedly been told that if he can agree a deal with another club, we will terminate his contract with no liability to either side. Yet no other club has come in for him due to his wages being so high. He has been at the club for a year.
Arse aka re also open to selling youngsters Eddie Nketiah and Reiss Nelson if the right offer comes in.
Both have never really had a chance under Arteta, and when they have played probably showed they are not of the level we require moving forward. Another 2 that are not part of the managers plans, but we have yet to move on.
Nicolas Pepe is another who would be open to leave if the right offer came in.
The club record signing has never really reached the heights we had all hoped and reports were last summer the club were looking to recoup some money on him and that if an offer in the region of £40million came in he would be gone.
And then we come to the big two. Alex Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
With one year left on his contract, Arsenal would jump at the opportunity to cash in on Lacazette if an offer came in. But like with so many of our players – no offers are coming in for him.
And the Aubameyang new contract is looking like a bad a decision as the Mesut Ozil one.
He looks disinterested, lacks sharpness and focus. He either is not mentally right or at 32 is on the decline. Maybe it is both.
But one year into his 3 year deal, Arsenal are open to selling him and he is open to leaving the club. But like Lacazette, there is not exactly a queue of clubs chasing him.
So Arteta talks about commitment to the cause. But the majority of the squad are either not committed to us or we are not committed to them. And this is shown on the pitch with a lack of hunger and desire.
Arthur Okonkwo, Cedric Soares, Ben White, Gabriel, Pablo Mari, Kieran Tierney, Nuno Taveras, Thomas Partey, Albert Sambi Lokonga, Emile Smith Rowe, Bukayo Saka, Gabriel Martinelli and Florian Balogun are the only first team squad players that have not been linked with moves away in the last 12 months.
That is just 13 players; 3 of whom are new signings and 2 are recently promoted youth team products.
You take those 5 away and we have just 8 players from last season that you could say are still “100% committed to the club”. And you see on the pitch the different levels in performance of those against everyone else.
The worry is when over half the squad is not committed, that is could run like poison through those players who are committed.
This all started with Mesut Ozil, Shkodran Mustsfi, Saed Kolasinac and Sokratis a year or more ago.
They were told they were not needed by the club but we struggled to move them on. They ended up remaining at the club despite no being wanted, not even being registered to play.
Arteta is not blameless in all of this.
He has a tendency to cast players aside very quickly, and an indecisiveness which has led to u-turns on sales.
Being indecisive and alienating staff members is poor management regardless of industry. This usually creates issues within the work force which spreads. And that is where Arsenal are at now.
We have a squad of players who lack commitment to us and we lack commitment to them.
The problem is that due to the financial crisis across European football, we are unable to sell the majority of these players so Arteta is going to have to find a way to work with them, get the best out of them. I am just not sure he has the man management skills to get the squad back on side and giving 100% for the season.