Arsenal are increasingly confident they are close to agreeing a bumper new deal with captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang – just 24 hours after the club revealed plans to make 55 members of staff redundant.
Arsenal players have been left furious by the club’s controversial redundancy proposals which come as negotiations with Aubameyang over a new three-year contract worth at least £250,000-per-week head towards a successful conclusion, reports Daily Mail.
Members of Mikel Arteta’s squad reacted with dismay to the job cuts announcement with sources telling Sportsmail that former captain Granit Xhaka was among the most vocal in discussions between the players that followed Wednesday’s news.
His upset was widely shared by his teammates, with the proposed job cull being revealed just four months after most of Arsenal’s players were encouraged to agree pay cuts in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
They had believed that by accepting a 12.5 per cent cut, reduced to 7.5 per cent after qualifying for the Europa League, they would protect the jobs of Arsenal staff.
So they were stunned to find out at the end of a conference call with Head of Football Raul Sanllehi and Managing Director Vinai Venkatesham, that a significant number would still be made redundant.
Manager Mikel Arteta had been informed earlier of the proposals recommended by Sanllehi, Venkatesham and Arsenal’s executive team, and approved by billionaire owner Stan Kroenke.
Gunners stars intend to speak to the club to raise their concerns. And though there is an acceptance that there may be little they can do they are still determined to make their displeasure known.
The pay cuts Arsenal’s players agreed and the support they offered were described as ‘massive’ and prevented the club having to take drastic action sooner.
But with Arsenal’s income continuing to be hit it was felt further action was required, though club chiefs hope the latest reorganisation will protect them from the future financial impact of the pandemic.
Arsenal’s plan has dented the feel-good factor following their morale-boosting FA Cup final triumph last weekend.
And club chiefs acknowledge that the decision to cut costs so they can continue to keep the club running sustainably but also invest in the team is a hard sell that leaves them in a ‘no-win’ situation.
A lucrative contract for captain Aubameyang is one such move that contrasts starkly with the slashing of jobs along with the proposed signing of Willian.
The Brazilian is close to joining on a free transfer from Chelsea on an initial three-year deal.
Aubameyang had a year left on his previous deal worth just under £200,000 per week and Arsenal have been in talks to convince their talisman to commit his future to the club and give him the assurances that he will be surrounded by sufficient quality if he does.
Arsenal’s optimism that Aubameyang would agree to stay has grown further since their Wembley win and the Gabon striker has indicated he is prepared to extend his stay until 2023. He wanted at least £250,000 per week and Arsenal have agreed to meet his demands for a wage increase, with further bonuses on top.
Club legend Ian Wright added his voice to the criticism, responding to Arsenal’s Twitter post about the plans: ‘Remember who you are, what you are and who you represent’ — a poignant quote often attributed to his good friend and late Arsenal legend David Rocastle.
Renowned scout Francis Cagigao, who unearthed Cesc Fabregas among others, Head of UK Scouting Peter Clark and Recruitment Chief Brian McDermott are among those told their jobs will go.
Following a previous stripping back of the academy scouting set-up, several European recruitment roles have also been affected along with departments including commercial and administration.
The 55 jobs represent just under 10 per cent of Arsenal’s 590-strong non-playing workforce and there will now be a month-long consultation which could result in the final number of redundancies changing. However, the final number following the consultation is not expected to differ too much from 55.