Decisions will not be made until the outcome of the season is known but defeats this month against Chelsea and Bayern Munich have shifted the balance of probabilities. Arsène Wenger will fight on and try to turn the situation around but a gap to Chelsea of 10 points and a 5-1 first leg deficit against Bayern feel insurmountable. Yet with so much of the season still to play – including the FA Cup – no definitive outcome is likely until April at the earliest and perhaps even the summer. A major turnaround is surely needed for Wenger to stay on and Arsenal do not currently look mentally or physical capable of delivering that finale.
Likely outcome: Wenger to leave
He scored his 20th goal of the season on Wednesday but you do not need much expertise in body language to sense that he feels deeply frustrated by the limitations of the team around him. He suggested earlier in the season that he would stay should Arsenal meet his financial demands – understood to be around £250,000-a-week – but the suspicion now is that he will feel that a new destination is needed to achieve his on-field ambitions. Paris St Germain are ready to bid while Juventus are also interested.
Likely outcome: Alexis Sánchez refuses new contract and is sold
Has always appeared happier than Sánchez and more likely to stay but no deal has been done and there could be fresh doubts now on both sides. Mesut Özil has said he wants certainty about Wenger but the manager now feels more likely to stay than leave. How Özil might view a different manager is impossible to predict. The same goes for the attitude of any new manager. There will be limitations too on the budget and Özil’s recent performances are hardly likely to persuade Arsenal to pressurise their wage structure to keep him.
Likely outcome: Özil extends contract
Futures of the British core
Jack Wilshere, Kieran Gibbs and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain will all have only one year remaining on their contracts this summer and there have been no talks about extending their deals. Carl Jenkinson will be allowed to leave while Aaron Ramsey has only two years. Wenger’s future will clearly shape these individual decisions and, while Oxlade-Chamberlain has progressed this season and Wilshere has benefitted from regular football, there is an argument to overhaul the squad.
Likely outcome: Ox and Ramsey to stay, Gibbs, Wilshere and Jenkinson to leave
It has felt like a cursed position for most of the past decade. William Gallas lost the role following a memorable meltdown and then Cesc Fàbregas and Robin van Persie pushed to leave. Thomas Vermaelen was largely injured, as was Mikel Arteta, It has been the same this season for Per Mertesacker but the German World Cup-winner has taken up the offer of a new contract and wants to stay and fight for his place. Mertesacker’s limitations are obvious enough but he does provide a down-to-earth and yet tough dressing room presence which would be difficult to replace.
Likely outcome: Mertesacker remains captain