For a while now, a discussion that has dominated the WhatsApp groups is the contract situation of Bukayo, Gabriel Martinelli and William Saliba.
Everyone is in unanimous agree that all 3 need to be tied down to long term deals. But the question of “how much would you pay them” also continually comes up as a follow up question.
I have long been of the opinion that Arsenal have a wage structure, and we need to keep with it.
In the last 24 months the club have done well to get rid of those underperforming, over paid stars, and in turn reorganising a wage bill that did not really have much structure to it.
Now Saliba, Saka and Martinelli need to get their new deals within the current wage structure. And I held the view that we should not be held to ransom by them.
Arsenal’s top earners are reportedly:
We need to pay our players what they deserve based on their long term performances.
Take William Saliba.
He has played less than 20-games for Arsenal. Whilst I expect him to get a huge payrise (currently on £40k a week), he has not yet put in the consistent performances to by on par with Thomas Partey.
He should “treble his money” and be in and around what Ben White is on – I would imagien Gabriel Magalhaes’ deal is in and around this figure too.
Saliba would then be on what you expect for a starting Arsenal defender.
If he starts demanding the £200k+ that Thomas Partey and Gabriel Jesus are in, he can go swivel.
We always need to keep players hungry, knowing that if they continue to improve they will get an increase.
Likewise, we need to be aware that paying one individual huge wages can impact others.
Give Saliba £200k a week and it will not long be long until Gabriel, White and Zinchenko are demanding similar. All 4 are at a similar level for us.
Gabriel Martinelli is in a similar situation.
He is progressing nicely, but this is his first (half a) season playing at this level.
He clearly should not be on the same level as players who have performed at a high level for a lot of their career (Partey, Jesus). But should now be on the sort of money on those below. So we are looking at around £120k a week again.
Previously, I had Bukayo Saka in and around this level as well.
But his performances, both for Arsenal and England, clearly lead him to deserve more than this.
Saka is now in his 3rd season as a senior first team regular and is clearly in our top 3 best players. He is one of England’s best players and could be the star of this World Cup.
This tournament could be his “breakout” tournament on the international stage.
He is perhaps not yet at the level of Partey and Jesus – who have been putting in his level performances for 3 or 4 years. But he is the level above the Saliba and Martinelli’s of this world.
A wage structure is all about creating a clear path so players know the types of performances they need to put in to “jump to the next level”.
Any decent run company will have similar, and it should stop staff feeling that they are underpaid and undervalued. And if staff do think that they deserve more, even though their performances do not warrant the rise, then they are welcome to leave!
Jesus and Partey are “established international stars” who have been performing at this level for 4-5 years. £200-£280k is fair.
Neither are world class, which is why they are not on the £300k+.
Beneath that, you have the “international stars” who have perhaps only just entered that category. That is where Saka sites. £150-£180k is reasonable.
And if he continues over the next 2 seasons to reach this level, he will then be on the £200k+ on his next contract (and if he kicks on again, in another 2 years he will get the £300k+ deals, and still be just 25!)
Then you have “regular domestic starters”.
Those who are have performed at a high level, but perhaps not yet reached the next level.
Think Granit Xhaka, Martin Odegaard, Gabriel, Zinchenko. And soon to probably be Saliba and Martinelli.
£120-150k is what is reasonable for them.
None of them have put in the performances as consistently as Saka, so it is right they sit below him. Another 18 months and they have kept the same level, they should be sat down with again.
And yes, based on the above, I would expect Xhaka and Odegaard to get new deals this summer.
Xhaka’s contract runs out in 2024. A new 3 year deal taking him through to 2026 on £120-150k a week is the right move to make.
Odegaard meanwhile has a contract through to 2025. Tie him down in the summer to a new 5-year deal. Upper end of the structure on £150k. you would maybe even consider the £180k if he keeps up this seasons performances.
Below them, you then have the likes of Aaron Ramsdale, Kieran Tierney and Takehiro Tomiyasu. Those that are in and around the first team, but can climb a few more levels in performance (or become a more regular starter). They should be on £80-120k a week.
A case could be made for Ramsdale to get a payrise. And Tomiyasu would probably have got one had White not taken his place.
This is also the area we need to add too over the next few windows.
Getting in a new defensive midfielder, winger and striker who are Tomiyasu level. Internationals ready to compete with the current first team, but would probably be considered “2nd string”.
World Class – £300k+
Established International Class – £200-275k
International Class – £150-£180k
Regular First Teamers – £120k-£150k
Top Level Squad Players / Breakthrough First Teamers – £80-£120k
Squad Players – £50-£80k
First Year Squad Players – £40-60k
So lets take Charlie Patino.
Next year he will join the first team squad. His new deal should be in and around the £40-60k region. New 4-year deal.
Give it 2 years, and depending on how he has progressed will depend on where he sits on the wage structure.
If he is clearly just a squad player (think Rob Holding, Mo Elneny), then its a new 5-year deal, £50-80k. If he is only just breaking into the first team, it is £80-£120k. If he has established himself in the first team for 18 months, £120k.
New contracts every 2-years, with pay rises depending on where they are within the squad.
That way we necver overpay a player, we never underpay or risk losing them for free, every player understands what he needs to do, and every greedy player is shown the door.
Saka, with his performances over the last 2 and a half years, now deserves that international class money. And if he keeps this level up, a new contract will follow in another two years!