Arsenal's clear-out begins

Posted by Andrew Mangan

While everybody accepts that Arsenal require new blood to make the team more competitive next season, there's also the need to get rid of some players whose contributions have been minimal.

This week, Arsenal announced that Andrei Arshavin and Sebastien Squillaci would be departing. This was no surprise, as the contracts of both players expire in June and there was no chance of the deals being extended. Arshavin's final game for the club was at Stamford Bridge in January, and he looked a pastiche of the player who so excited when he first joined.

- Gazidis confident in Wenger commitment

Some might blame Arsene Wenger, but ultimately, it boils down to the player. As a team, Arsenal could have used the mercurial, creative talent of the Russian, and Wenger is not a manager to cut off his nose to spite his face. He lost faith in a man whose attitude and desire were found wanting. He looked like a pub player against Chelsea that day and never pulled on the Arsenal shirt again.

Squillaci, a signing of reasonable pedigree, having come from an excellent Sevilla side via Ligue 1 title winners Lyon, and before that Monaco, played just nine minutes of Premier League football in the past two seasons. His departure means little from a football point of view but takes somewhere around £40,000 per week off the wage bill.

The most interesting development was the release of Brazilian midfielder Denilson. He still had one year left on his contract, but both parties came to an arrangement to release him. The reality is that Arsenal will have probably paid up most of what he would have earned in his final year, but it showed a willingness to cut their losses, trim the squad and get rid of a player who had no future at the Emirates.

When you look at the squad, there are others with whom similar arrangements would be welcome. Nicklas Bendtner, on loan for the past two seasons, needs to find a permanent home, but with another year left on a lucrative Arsenal deal, he'll, quite rightly I suppose, demand that a satisfactory financial arrangement is found. As with Denilson, being a free agent would make him more affordable for clubs who might not otherwise have been able to make an offer.

It's hard to know what will happen with Andre Santos and South Korean Park Chu-Young, who both have two years left. Maybe a bargain sale is in order. Buy one, get one free. Whatever happens, Arsenal still have to make it attractive for other clubs to consider them.

Then there's Marouane Chamakh. Signed on a free transfer from Bordeaux in 2010, he's on big money because of the Bosman transfer but, for me, goes down as one of Wenger's worst signings. After a reasonable first season, he was frozen out by the form of Robin van Persie and, unfazed, seemed content to live the nice life in London on nice wages, with football as something of an afterthought.

He moved to West Ham on loan in January, made just one start and didn't make an appearance in the final four months of the season. When West Ham owner David Gold was asked on Twitter by a fan why they signed him, he replied, "I'd rather you didn't."

The Moroccan has no chance of making it back to the Arsenal team -- he knows it, everyone knows it -- but nor does he have any chance of making the same money at another club. Arsenal will have to bite the bullet on this one. I'm sure they'll be able to find an agreement, but it's likely to be costly. Still, it's short-term pain for long-term gain and, hopefully, a lesson learned in the transfer market.

The club's focus has to be improvement and adding quality and depth to the squad this summer. To do that, Arsenal need to make room and be ruthless as they do so.

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