Arsenal are reportedly looking to "accelerate contract talks" with midfielder Aaron Ramsey, but there is "growing anxiety" negotiations could be problematic after the Gunners broke their wage structure to tie down Mesut Ozil in January.
According to Sami Mokbel of MailOnline, Ramsey, 27, has less than 18 months on his contract—he is paid around £110,000 per week—but has yet to agree new terms amid "dragging" talks.
With Ozil having been given a new deal worth up to £350,000 per week, the Wales international is likely to demand a significant pay increase, and Arsenal will have to consider his future if they cannot come to an agreement by the summer, Mokbel added.
A failure to commit key players to new contracts early enough has dogged Arsenal in recent seasons.
Alexis Sanchez left for Manchester United on January 23 in a swap deal with Henrikh Mkhitaryan with only six months remaining on his Arsenal deal, meaning the north London outfit were in a weak negotiating position when selling one of the Premier League's best players.
Last summer, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain departed for Liverpool in a £35 million deal having entered the last year of his contract.
And Arsenal had to increase Ozil's wages from around £140,000 per week to £350,000 per week in order to convince him to stay after he had entered the last six months of his deal, per Goal.
Keeping Ozil was a significant coup for Arsenal as it was widely expected the Germany international would follow Sanchez out the exit door in the summer, per Sam Wallace and Jeremy Wilson in the Telegraph.
However, his huge wage increase has left the Gunners in a slight predicament, as players—including Ramsey—will now expect improved deals that fall in line with Ozil's.
The former Cardiff City man proved how crucial he is for Arsenal as he netted a hat-trick in a 5-1 thrashing of Everton on Saturday.
Per ESPN FC's Mattias, the Welshman is now the most prolific goalscorer in the Arsenal squad after recent departures:
Mattias Karén @MattiasKaren
With Walcott, Giroud and Sanchez all gone, Aaron Ramsey is now Arsenal's current career leading scorer, with 50 goals.2018-2-1 08:29:50
The Gunners cannot afford another contract saga surrounding one of their key players, and Ramsey will know he is in a strong negotiating position.
Arsenal are likely going to have to offer him a huge wage increase to make sure he commits to the club before the summer.