The key contract decisions for Mikel Arteta this summer
Arsenal's squad has put up another impressive season so far under Mikel Arteta. They are firmly in the Premier League title race and have the latter stages of the UEFA Champions League ahead of them.
It has been a true collective effort from Arteta's men as a wider squad of 24 players has starred for the team this year. The Spanish coach's philosophy at the club has revolved around the spirit of togetherness, with everybody pulling their weight.
Despite this, sentiment must be put aside this summer as the team needs to be continually improved for the club to progress on the pitch. Huge contract decisions await Arteta when it comes to renewals and making loan signings permanent.
David Raya's option to buy
David Raya joined the club on loan from Brentford in the summer and he has become the regular number one since. The Spaniard's quality in possession has been vital in big games for his new club.
In the victories against Manchester City and Liverpool at home, his calmness in possession allowed the team to regularly beat the opposition press in dangerous areas. Many of the major betting sites in the United Kingdom now offer Arsenal as realistic league champions, as a direct result of the Gunners taking points off their rivals.
Arteta's team are slight outsiders at BetVictor for example offered at 7/1, with Pep Guardiola's City being the outright favourites offered at 8/15.
The team's dropped points against the likes of West Ham and Fulham could be put down to the team failing to take their chances, while Raya's impact has been invaluable in the biggest of fixtures.
The decision to keep Raya at the club is perhaps the most straightforward one that Arteta will have to make this year. However, for now, his long-term future is not secured and it will require a £27 million option to be activated as per his loan contract.
Jorginho Frello's expiring contract
Jorginho Frello has typically been a squad player for Arteta although he has impressed when stepping into big games. Like the Spanish goalkeeper, he is another expert in retaining possession.
The Italian midfielder helps to dictate the tempo when called upon at the base of midfield which - like Raya's on-the-ball security - can spark longer periods of sustained pressure and ultimately manipulate the momentum into Arsenal's favour.
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Onto the next round <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/UCL?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#UCL</a> ?? <a href="https://t.co/H6fdCwqDq0">pic.twitter.com/H6fdCwqDq0</a></p>— Jorginho Frello (@FrelloJorginho) <a href="https://twitter.com/FrelloJorginho/status/1734818177186415018?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">December 13, 2023</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
The former Chelsea player's contract will run out at the end of June this year, although he has been making his case for a new deal since the turn of the year.
Jorginho put in a player-of-the-match performance against Liverpool in February, which was the game that truly brought Arsenal's title push back to life.
He has proved himself to be a top-level squad option that perhaps deserves more than the one-year option in his contract being activated.
Other squad players could depart
Arsenal have two other senior players with contracts set to expire at the culmination of the season. Mohamed Elneny and Cedric Soares could see their time at the club come to an end.
Both have been squad players throughout their time at the Emirates Stadium, and it is probably the perfect time for them to find first-team football elsewhere.
The pair have made just six first-team appearances combined this year, and Cedric could perhaps earn himself a permanent switch to Fulham after moving to Craven Cottage on loan in January.
Arsenal have simply progressed to a higher level than the utility players that are set to depart. Elneny's departure will be a sad one though, as he has earned cult-hero status at the club.
Arteta has many off-pitch decisions to make in the first half of 2024. But the key questions are: will he go all-in on Raya as his long-term goalkeeper, and does an ageing Jorginho deserve an extension to his time at the club?