One of the players that have impressed for Arsenal this season is French full back Bacary Sagna. His stellar performances have ranged from the right back role to the center back position. The former is his natural position but had, had to fill in at the latter in the absence of both Mertesacker and Koscielny at various times owing to injuries.
The Frenchman is in the final year of his contract and talks are still ongoing over an extension. According to reports, the standoff is owing to disagreement over the terms of the new contract. Arsenal want to offer him 2 years while he wants the security of 3 and an increase in weekly wages. On the back of his form last season, maybe he doesn’t deserve it but on th back of his showing so far this season, he is more than deserving of it.
Wenger might have reservations giving him a new 3 year deal owing to his age and injury record but his fitness this season doesn’t give him off as an injury prone player. His legs might not be able to carry him effectively as a right back for the next 3 years but he could put in a good shift at center back. In the heart of defence, he doesn’t need his legs as much as he needs his head. The best center backs aren’t usually the quickest. Maldini, Nesta, Cannavaro were all great center backs but not sprinters. Even our own dear Mertesacker. The German is Arsenal’s best defender and that’s not down to his pace but his intelligence. He knows how to read the game and organize the defence. That’s why he concedes less free-kicks and seldom give away fouls while Koscielny has gifted many. Certainly, it takes more than pace to be a great center back.
Maldini and Thuram made headlines as center backs but they didn’t become that until in the twilight of their careers at full back when their legs couldn’t carry them anymore. Sagna is gradually approaching that time when he might not be able to grapple with the running a full back needs to do but his intelligence, organization and aerial ability will be helpful in the heart of the defence.
Having him around will be of double benefit to Arsenal. We will have someone to mentor Jenkinson and also an emergency back-up for the central defence. Wenger believes in him at center back and he is one of the reasons why he didn’t buy a new center-back in the summer.