Arsenal opted against offering Aaron Ramsey a new contract because matching his wage demands would have been “very harmful” to the squad’s dynamic, head of football Raul Sanllehi says.
Ramsey will join Juventus on a free transfer on July 1 after accepting a deal in February that, according to some reports in the UK, will see him earn as much as £400,000 per week.
Sanllehi says it would have been irresponsible for Arsenal to match the “incredible” offers Ramsey received from other clubs when he entered the final year of his contract, even though the player himself was keen to stay at Emirates Stadium.
Gunners director Sanllehi pointed to unnamed rivals where salary discrepancies have proved a disruption within the team and threatened to damage the interests of the club as a whole.
“One of the key things for me – and I’ve seen that happening in other clubs – one of the key things is to keep the rationality in the salary balance of the team,” he told Arsenal’s website.
“Because of our circumstances, because of not renewing Aaron on time, we were in a situation in which Aaron had incredible offers building up on the salary.
“He was really keen on staying with us, he was ready to make the effort but at the end of the whole process we had to be responsible for ourselves and protect the interests of Arsenal. We realised we were going to cause an imbalance that would have been very harmful for the team’s sake in the medium and longer term.”
Sanllehi says plans are firmly in place for the transfer window, however, as Arsenal look to replace Ramsey and strengthen their squad.
Only a victory in next week’s Europa League final will see them return to the Champions League next season, but Sanllehi thinks the lure of the Gunners will be enough to convince top targets to join regardless.
“What I can tell you is that we have identified very clearly and unanimously with our head coach and technical people, we know what we want to prioritise and we’re very clear on what our priorities are,” he said.
“We’re already in the market and we’re already talking with the people that can help us to cover those positions and I feel quite strong.
“It’s going well and the image that Arsenal has in the football world is very strong. I do believe that we have a very good plan to cover those positions to be much stronger next year to deliver the success that we’re all hoping for.
“We are a reference in the football world, so when Arsenal knocks on the door of players it’s a different knock than other clubs. Of course, the fact that we have not been in the Champions League for two years and we are in question marks now for the next year, that’s not helpful. But again, the image of Arsenal is strong enough to help us build a case about all the model we are bringing up, the new era that we are bringing up. It’s very exciting.”
Sanllehi also expects the club to appoint a new technical director soon, with former midfielder Edu said to be among the candidates.
“That role is really crucial in the whole model,” he added. “We are hoping to be able to get that covered very soon… we are only missing that piece. Surely we are going to be able to cover for him in the short term but when we are talking mid-term and long term we really need that position.”
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