Aaron Ramsey and Danny Welbeck are reportedly in no rush to agree new contracts at Arsenal despite both players having less than two years to run on their respective deals.
According to Matt Hughes of The Times, the Gunners have failed "to reach an early breakthrough in discussions with Welbeck and Ramsey" following "preliminary talks with both players."
It's added that both players, whose deals run out in 2019, would be happy to sign long-term extensions at the club. However, they're each said to be "unwilling to be bounced into quick deals to appease fans despairing at an apparent exodus."
Indeed, as noted by Hughes, both Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil are both being strongly linked with an exit, as their contracts are up in 2018.
The same goes for Jack Wilshere, while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, who moved to Liverpool in the summer, had less than a year remaining on his deal when he made the switch to Anfield. Arsenal forward Theo Walcott will also see his contract expire in 2019.
While Ramsey and Welbeck are not as crucial as Sanchez and Ozil, any decision to let their contracts run down will trigger concern.
Speaking in the summer, Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger suggested it's only natural this'll happen more and more, per journalist James McNicholas:
AW: "In the future you will see more and more players going to the end of their contracts, because transfers become so high."2017-7-30 17:47:23
Of the two, Ramsey is the more important squad member, having lined up consistently at the hub of midfield this term.
The Welshman may not be the most glamorous player, but he's proved valuable to Arsenal down the years. His willingness to break the lines, get into the box and finish chances has offered a different edge in midfield; he's netted winning goals in two FA Cup finals as well.
As relayed by the Premier League Twitter account, the Welshman has been making a big impression in the final third in recent weeks:
Premier League @premierleague
Aaron Ramsey has had a hand in 7 goals in his last seven #PL games (2 goals, 5 assists) after contributing twice in his first seven apps of the season https://t.co/SSpvmNt0bV2017-12-3 00:24:04
Welbeck would've been keen to make a similar impression this season, although he's struggled to force his way into consistent contention in the first team.
A recurring theme of the forward's time at Arsenal has been his struggles with injury problems; as noted by Transfermarkt, a hip injury and a groin problem have ruled him out for 11 games overall. With that in mind, Wenger will understandably find it difficult to rely on the former Manchester United man.
Even when he has featured lately, Welbeck has struggled to make an impression, as noted by sports writer Jonny Singer:
Jonny Singer @Jonny_Singer
I'm not sure I've seen a worse cameo than Welbeck's. All confidence and conviction gone. Such a shame.2017-12-13 21:39:37
Nevertheless, Arsenal supporters will not want to see the striker move on cheaply or potentially for nothing. Should Welbeck and indeed Ramsey stall on their negotiations until the summer, then the Gunners would be in a difficult position should any offers come in—especially after the way in which Sanchez and Ozil have run their deals down.
Those associated with Arsenal will at least be comforted by suggestions both players are keen to stay. But for a club that has ambitions for challenging at the top of the Premier League, letting crucial decisions on new contracts go down to the wire is far from ideal.