Much has been made of the increased revenue at Arsene Wenger’s disposal and whether this will finally be the summer where he splashes the cash on top talent to take the club to challenging for the biggest honors. In order for that to happen, though, the Gunners may well need to remove a number of its current big earners who are not contributing from their wage bill.
Here are eight players that may have played their last game for the club.
Still the club’s record signing at £15 million, the gifted attacking midfielder arrived to big expectations just months after inspiring Russia to the semifinals of Euro 2008. And Arshavin initially lived up to that billing, notably in a stunning performance as he scored all of Arsenal’s goals in a memorable 4-4 draw against Liverpool. But that proved to be the high point of his Emirates career. All too often he flattered to deceive with the increasingly rare moment of quality being accompanied by a frustrating lack of work rate. Arshavin’s only starts last season were in the League Cup and he will now be allowed to leave when his contract expires later this month.
At least Arshavin produced some moments that fans will remember fondly. The same cannot be said for Squillaci. Having arrived to add some experience to a rocky back line late in the summer 2010 transfer window, the then 30-year-old quickly gained a reputation for only increasing the uncertainty about Arsenal’s defending. After making 20 Premier League starts in his first season, he has not made a single one since and it will surely come as a relief that he’s inflated £60,000 a week wages will be removed with the expiration of his contract this summer.
There were high hopes for Denilson after arriving for £3.4 million from Sao Paulo as an 18-year-old in 2006. Wenger initially showed plenty of faith in him, despite largely underwhelming performances, and the midfielder started all-but two of Arsenal’s Premier League matches in 2008-09. But, with the emergence of Jack Wilshere, the Brazilian’s limitations were exposed and he was shunted further and further to the fringes. He has spent the past two seasons back on loan at Sao Paulo and few Arsenal fans will even realize he departs when his contract expires on June 30.
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After years of uncertainty in the Arsenal goal as Manuel Almunia and Lukasz Fabianski failed to show that they warranted a place in a side of the Gunners’ ambitions, Szczesny made an immediate impression when he excelled in his Premier League debut at Old Trafford, of all places. The confident young Pole quickly established himself as the club’s No.1, but his performances dipped last season to the point where he was dropped for the crucial remaining weeks of the campaign. With talk that Wenger is looking for an experienced goalkeeper this summer, Szczesny could make way. Yet, it would be a bold move to dispense with a player, who, at 23, still has plenty of time to fulfill his undoubted potential.
Like Szczesny, Bendtner’s confidence has never been found wanting, even when, all too often, his performances on the pitch have been. After spending the last two seasons on loan, with unsuccessful spells at Sunderland and then Juventus, the Dane claims that Arsenal have now accepted five bids for him to leave on a permanent basis this summer. He has often shown plenty of promise, although more frequently for his country than for the Gunners. There is still a good, but perhaps not top class, player in there, but the 25-year-old now needs to get his career back on track.
In similar vein to Bendtner, Gervinho has generally been far more impressive for country than club. The Ivory Coast forward has often flattered to deceive, combining searing pace and good dribbling skills too frequently with a poor end product. There is little doubt that he is a hugely confidence-based player, perhaps too much to excel regularly at the top level, and often goes on runs of either good or bad form. With the Emirates crowd having gotten on Gervinho’s back, he and Arsenal may be better served by a move.
It is hard to recall now, but when Chamakh first arrived on a free transfer from Bordeaux he looked an exceptional piece of business by Wenger. The angular Moroccan struck 10 goals in his first 18 starts for the club in 2010 after being thrust straight into the side following an injury to Robin van Persie. But then ever since Van Persie returned to reassume the role of top dog, Chamakh has never looked the same player again. Incredibly, in the two-and-a-half years since, he has scored just three times more for the club. He failed to appear for West Ham in a loan spell during the second half of last season and will surely leave if any club can be found to take the 29-year-old off their wage bill.
The Belgian may still be the club captain, but he spent Arsenal’s impressive climax to last season watching form the substitute’s bench. Vermaelen made a big impression after arriving from Ajax in 2009 with his knack for going forward and scoring spectacular goals. But increasingly his off-the-cuff defending has become a liability, not least in the 2-1 defeat to Tottenham that prompted his exile from the starting lineup. He still has plenty of attributes that Arsenal can utilize, but Wenger may be tempted to sell should a significant bid arrive.