Bacary Sagna has spent the past six seasons holding down the right side of the Arsenal defense. As the offseason approaches, his future is one of the club's biggest question marks. The Gunners shouldn't overpay to keep him at the Emirates.
According to Kevin Palmer of ESPNFC.com, Arsene Wenger is interested in signing the veteran defender to an extension before he enters a contract year, but Sagna wants to keep his options open. Palmer also translated comments made by the right back to French outlet Le 10 Sport:
I could very well extend my contract here in London but equally I could leave at the end of the season. I only have one year left on my contract. We will see.
At the moment I am fully focused on Arsenal. I don’t know what will happen this summer. I have to see the directors again regarding an extension to my contract. Monaco would be a new challenge. I don’t close any door to PSG, Monaco or Arsenal.
Those remarks are worrisome for two reasons from an Arsenal perspective.
First, it shows he's not positive he wants to stay with the club moving forward. The Gunners would be forced to convince him to stay while also trying to come to terms on a new deal. Both tasks are easier said than done, especially with other sides potentially lurking.
The other issue is leverage. Any time big-spending Paris Saint-Germain are mentioned in transfer talks, the price immediately goes up. If the Ligue 1 champions are indeed interested in Sagna, his representatives could use that to drive up his asking price.
So while Sagna has been a stalwart member of the back line for six years, Arsenal must still tread carefully when it comes to handing him a new contract. Every player has their price.
He's coming off a solid, yet unspectacular campaign as the Gunners head into the finale hoping to secure a Champions League berth. Furthermore, at 30, he's nearing the end of his prime and his value will fade once those peak seasons end.
If Arsenal commit to him for the long haul, they must do so with the understanding they are unlikely to receive any offers better or even equal to what he might attract this summer.
Where do you think Sagna will start next season?
It's a tough commitment to make for an aging defender with fading form and limited offensive upside to provide support on the wing. Add in the fact that 21-year-old Carl Jenkinson continues to show signs of serious potential and the Gunners might not want to be locked into a veteran right-back.
Just like Sagna is keeping his options open, so should Arsenal.
If Wenger and Co. can find reasonable common ground with the defender on a new deal, re-signing him would be a good move. But they shouldn't go overboard to do it.
If his demands are too high and another club is showing legitimate interest, the Gunners can feel comfortable moving him and going in another direction—whether it be Jenkinson full-time or a cheaper option on the transfer market to fill the short-term void.
Sagna has been a reliable member of Arsenal for six seasons. He's not irreplaceable, however, and that's what the club must keep in mind.