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Arsenal icon Paul Merson has Bukayo Saka warning for Mikel Arteta – ‘Can’t happen anymore’ | Football | Sport

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Arsenal hero Paul Merson has urged Mikel Arteta to stop the club’s best players from running down their contracts in order to prevent the likes of Bukayo Saka from leaving in the absence of a transfer fee. The England ace will be a free agent in the summer of 2023 as things stand and has recently been linked with a move elsewhere after failing to agree an extension as of yet.

Saka has emerged as one of Arsenal’s most important assets since breaking into the first-team picture back in 2019.

He has started in the vast majority of his side’s Premier League matches this season, chipping in with six goals and four assists in the process.

However, the 20-year-old appears to be facing the possibility of a future away from north London, with Manchester City and Liverpool said to be keen on a move for his services in the summer.

Saka penned a new long-term deal at Arsenal in 2020 but is yet to extend his current agreement, which runs until the end of next season.

The situation could leave the Gunners with a big decision to make in the summer over whether to cash in on the winger or risk losing him for nothing at a later date.

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A number of other Arsenal players are set to be out of contract in the near future, with Alexandre Lacazette and Eddie Nketiah having less than six months remaining on their current deals at the club.

This could leave just one senior forward on their books next season, with Folarin Balogun still tied down until the summer of 2025.

Merson, who registered 269 appearances for Arsenal between 1985 and 1997, believes that Arteta must change his approach to renewing the contracts of his star players in order to avoid undoing the good work of his tenure at the club.

“What Arsenal now need to start doing is working on not letting happen what has happened too many times in the past,” Merson told Sky Sports.

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“As an Arsenal fan, you are watching these bright young stars in action, and then all of a sudden you see in the press that they’ve only got a year left on their contracts.

“That cannot happen anymore. They’ve got to keep on topping up players’ contracts. They have good young players, and they need to keep on top of their contracts.

“They can’t get lazy and have players run down their contracts and eventually leaving on a free. They need to show they have learnt from the mistakes of the past and get these players tied down so that they are playing their best years at Arsenal.”

Arsenal spent more money on players than any other Premier League club over the summer, splashing in excess of £160million on six new signings.

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However, they failed to add to their squad in January despite attempting to sign the likes of Dusan Vlahovic and Arthur Melo over the course of the window.

Merson went on to suggest that Arteta could be well-placed to achieve success next season if he manages to secure the additions of one or two others in the summer while tying down Saka and the club’s other existing stars to more appropriate contracts.

“They have got a good, young squad and if you can add another couple of top-quality signings for next season, I think there are happier times to come for Arsenal, positive times are around the corner,” he added.

Arsenal will be looking to make a winning return after the recent winter break by claiming all three points against Brentford in their next Premier League outing later this month.

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