Arsenal defender Bacary Sagna’s failure to sign a contract extension with less than 12 months left on his current deal has refuelled speculation that this is his last season at the Emirates, handing manager Arsene Wenger a potentially massive recruitment headache next summer.
The north Londoners are 5/1 third-favourites to win the Premier League this season and top the pile after seven games, but reports linking their right-back with a move to either Monaco or PSG on a free will have dampened the mood at the club going into the international break.
Sagna’s last 18 starts in the red of Arsenal have yielded 15 wins, two draws and just one defeat.
Despite breaking his leg for the second time in seven months on the last day of the 2011/12 season and subsequently missing out on Euro 2012, Sagna managed to reclaim his spot in the Emirates first team last October and even filled in at centre-half for the 1-0 win at Sunderland in February – a position he has excelled in on occasion this term.
Sagna has been a reliable presence in the side for much of the Gunners’ impressive run since the back-end of last season and his consistency and versatility has been vital.
The former Auxerre man averaged 50 per cent more defensive actions per game than Carl Jenkinson last season.
21-year-old Jenkinson has proved an able deputy at right-back, but Wenger’s decision to drop the former Charlton youth when his more experienced colleague returned from injury appears to have been vindicated.
Sagna also created 20 goalscoring chances in his 25 Premier League appearances last term, which compares favourably with Jenkinson’s nine key passes in 14 matches.
Finding an experienced replacement will be difficult and expensive.
Sagna and Jenkinson are the only senior right-backs at the Emirates and the latter’s callowness dictates that Arsenal will be forced to part with a significant chunk of next summer’s transfer budget should they lose the Frenchman.
Malaga’s 28-year-old captain Jesus Gamez Duarte was mooted as a possible replacement over the summer, but with over two years left on the player’s contract Arsenal could expect to pay even more than the £10m handed over to Los Boquerones in January for left-back Nacho Monreal.