Ever since arriving in England in 2007 Bacary Sagna has been regarded as one of the top right backs in the Premier League. His consistent play highlighted by inefficiency in central defence. However, over recent years he has suffered two broken legs and this has taken it’s toll on his fitness levels and performance standards. Once the epitome of robotic consistency, he has allowed errors, some of them ghastly, to creep in to his game. Even despite this though, Sagna was the right back in the second best defence in the league. A defensive unit that looks, for the first time in years, to be settled and able to operate to a high standard. Arsenal have a big decision to make on him. He is 30 years old, Arsene Wenger’s traditional cut off age for long term commitment, has suffered two big injuries, has one year left on his contract and is being openly courted by Monaco and PSG which would give him a shop window as he battles to get back in to the French national team.
Sagna recently told French newspaper L’Equipe that a move; ‘is possible. We would have to see in which conditions and, in sporting terms, what they propose. I won’t go just anywhere’. And on his contract impasse with Arsenal; ‘There are talks [with Arsenal], but I still haven’t extended my contract. I am talking, and I am not at a bad club either’. He is clearly torn on what his best option would be. In ‘sporting terms’ his best option would be to stay at Arsenal. He is the first choice, and playing in a settled unit. He knows the system and his team mates.
A move to PSG would be dubious in sporting terms. If Sagna is concerned about winning back his place in the French national team it’s a big risk. PSG have Christophe Jallet, and more importantly Gregory van der Wiel already at the club. If he can oust them then it’s perfect, but if he gets stuck on the bench his World Cup will vanish. A move to Monaco would be solely driven by money at this stage of Sagna’s career. He maybe has two or three years left at the top, and Monaco aren’t going to win the Champions League in the next three years. Again, playing in France would have an appeal to him for both sporting and personal reasons. This could be his last big contract, and he’ll get a bigger one at PSG or Monaco than he will at Arsenal. He’ll also get a longer one than he will at Arsenal.
Sagna will be 31 at the end of his contract next summer and Arsenal would be unlikely to offer much more than a one or two year deal. PSG or Monaco could offer three or even four years if they wanted to. Arsenal have shown some flexibility on this rule compared to previous years, and in Sagna’s case they should do again. There are several reasons that Arsenal should push harder to keep him. They only have Carl Jenkinson at right back other than him, and although Jenkinson has promise, he’s not got the quality of Sagna. Just as pressingly, there is a lack of quality full backs in world football at the moment that are gettable for Arsenal. Their first choice, Lukasz Piszczek is having hip surgery and is out for 6 months. If they at least keep Sagna for this season they can re-evaluate based on his performances and then make a decision on Piszczek or give them time to scout out another right back.
Arsenal have too many other areas of need to have to make themselves another hole by selling Sagna. He clearly wants some security on his contract having suffered two broken legs and if Arsenal aren’t prepared to offer that they should just lose him for free next year unless PSG or Monaco make a huge offer. If Arsenal get an offer they are satisifed with, and feel sure on a replacement, they can sell, but otherwise it just creates a weakness that doesn’t currently exist.