Arsenal: Why Unchecked Player Power Could Overthrow Long-Term Plans in North London

​When Arsenal's former decision-makers chose to offer Mesut Özil a new contract worth £350k-a-week, a very dangerous precedent was set at Emirates Stadium.

The World Cup winner's arrival five years earlier sent a clear message that the Gunners could still compete with the best in the transfer market, being able to attract a household name from the biggest club on the planet to play alongside the likes of Yaya SanogoNico Yennaris and Emiliano Viviano.

But Özil's extension in 2018 had completely the opposite effect. It set the wheels in motion which now sees Arsenal footing the bill of a title-winning side, but with players who will be lucky to finish inside a European qualification place next season.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang,Mesut Ozil

Letting Aaron Ramsey leave on a free transfer, or more specifically rejecting his wage demands outright, has helped to establish a picture of who really has the ball in their court during contract negotiations, following a changing of the guard behind the scenes in a post-Arsène Wenger era.

It was the wrong decision from a sporting point of view, that much is indisputable, but for Raul Sanllehi and Vinai Venkatesham, it will help put the negotiating power back in their hands for the foreseeable future.

Or at least it had looked that way, until club captain Laurent Koscielny refused to go on the club's pre-season tour in the United States as he looks to push for a move back to France.

The 33-year-old's decision has understandably left fans outraged, and Arsenal are now stuck between a rock and a hard place over how they deal with Koscielny's decision.

If they cancel the player's contract and allow him to leave on a free transfer, then Koscielny's case will simply be the latest in a long line of abuses of player power.

While if Arsenal hold onto their captain and a sufficient offer doesn't come in for him this summer, then everyone involved in the saga will come out on the losing side.

Things appear like they can be salvageable behind closed doors, but Arsenal's first-team staff are going to risking a headache - maybe even risking mutiny - if there isn't a significant step up from last season.

Despite being blessed with one of the best front two combinations across Europe, manager Unai Emery frequently played Alexandre Lacazette and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang separately - or out of position when they were on the pitch at the same time.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang,Alexandre Lacazette

As things stand, one of the Premier League's all-time best bromances don't look like they'll turn against those in charge anytime soon, but if they're pushed to the same lengths as Chelsea and most recently Manchester United under José Mourinho, Arsenal could quickly become one of the biggest laughing stocks in top-flight history.

There's no reason for those inside the club to be treading on eggshells just yet, but it's clear for all to see that Arsenal are just one or two unhappy stars away from going back to square one in their hopes of once again becoming a major player on European football's biggest stage.

Source : 90min