New Bukayo Saka and William Saliba Arsenal contracts cement Edu longevity plan after assessment

William Saliba and Bukayo Saka contract extension were two of the best pieces of business under Edu
-Credit: (Image: Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images)

The focus for Arsenal this summer is of course on their work in the transfer market to improve the squad and ensure that Mikel Arteta has the strongest squad possible. Sporting director Edu Gaspar has done an excellent job in helping build that team which was just two points off Manchester City in a second successive Premier League title race.

This has rightfully garnered plenty of praise and the Brazilian earned his promotion from technical director with such success, built upon since with deals for the like of Declan Rice. What is perhaps less spoken about is the success in maintaining the squad, and the thought processes behind building a team with an eye on longevity.

Arsenal is no longer a place where the best players are looking to make a step up; instead, the Gunners as a club have made the step up. This makes keeping players easier and the entire feedback loop begins to explain itself.

Taking a look at this summer, in the senior squad both Mohamed Elneny and Cedric Soares have seen their contracts expire and will officially leave at the end of this month. Both were seen very much as the deep depth that would rarely get game time, but took valuable slots in the 25-man squad with considerable wages which are now off the books.

There are expected to be further outgoings this summer too, as players not deemed of the required level for the club’s ambitions are sold. Jorginho was another player who would have seen his deal run out this summer but the club worked on a one-year extension – an important move for a player of his quality and he along with Thomas Partey (who could also leave this summer if sold) are the club’s only players with deals expiring in 2025.

Quite the change from seasons of old where players would see their deals run down and there would be a far longer list of talent on the next year’s expiration list. Bukayo Saka and William Saliba, who will come up later, were two such players until their recent renewals.

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Into 2026 and here we find some other more experienced members of the group in Leandro Trossard, 29, and Oleksandr Zinchenko, 27. Where Trossard has shone this season he has become a key part of the group but with two years left and entering his 30th year this December, this remains a good deal for the Belgian where a Jorginho-esque extension could come later down the line.

Zinchenko could leave this summer with uncertainty surrounding his future, but the club have the control with a two-year contract to make a good earning on a sale; a decision would almost certainly need to be made in 2025. Emile Smith Rowe similarly could leave but as a much younger player, there would be an interest in making that call here with the two-year buffer to make the best profit on any sale.

Aaron Ramsdale's deal has an option to extend through to 2027 but he too is expected to leave in search of more minutes. The deal he signed last year means the club are in a strong negotiating position on the transfer fee, of which they expect to make a profit and begin the change the widely scrutinised sales reputation.

Takehiro Tomiyasu extended by a year too, like Ramsdale with an option to extend to 2027. The Japanese international has become a key part of the versatile depth in Mikel Arteta’s back line.

Both Eddie Nketiah and Reiss Nelson’s deals run out in 2027 and their recent extensions have allowed the club to demand a sizeable fee with the Athletic reporting the club were looking for, inclusive of add-ons, £20million for the latter. Saka and Saliba signed four-year deals to take them through to 2027 with scope for further renewals as the club aims to hold onto its best talent.

Having signed an extension to 2027 two years ago, the club are already understood to be negotiating with Gabriel Magalhaes over a further extension and improvement of terms after another top campaign. Yet more evidence of the long-term thinking of the club.

Gabriel Jesus signed a five-year deal in 2022 and although he has lost his place as a guaranteed starter, the 27-year-old is a key part of the attacking depth that Arteta has. Best friends Gabriel Martinelli and Fabio Vieira are the final 2027 expirees with contrasting outlooks on their futures as Arsenal may look to seek a sale of the Portuguese midfielder whereas Martinelli remains a key part of the squad.

Finally, those with deals expiring in 2028 represent the most recent signings in Declan Rice, Kai Havertz, Jurrien Timber and Jakub Kiwior, and the most recently renewed players in Martin Odegaard and Ben White. Arsenal are sure to have this young group together for a long time and hopefully, this brings some attention to work done at keeping it that way.