Arsenal signed Andrei Arshavin in the January transfer window two seasons back and he has been an integral member of the team since he joined the Gunners. The versatile Russian midfielder has been immense for the Gunners in the past and has established himself as one of the most creative players in the Premier League.
The diminutive Russian has the ability to conjure something brilliant from nothing which has been inspirational for the Gunners. However he also has the tendency to be anonymous in some games and tends to be disillusioned when things are not going well for him and his side. He has underperformed in several games when he is not in the mood.
However he has almost always retained his place in the team because of his devastating ability to create opportunities even when he is not at his best. He was inconsistent last season but had some great moments like the goals at Old Trafford and Anfield. But in this season, he has not had many good games; his best game arguably being the one against Aston Villa where he scored one and created many more opportunities for his team mates.
At the age of 29, it does seem like age is finally catching up with the Russian and he looked tired in many League games which was played after a mid-week fixture. He has not been at his best this season for sure but despite that, he is one of the leaders in assists in the Premier League and also has a decent return of six goals this season.
His contract runs till the end of 2012 and Arsene Wenger said they were in the process of negotiating a new contract for the midfielder. Wenger has a policy of not extending the contracts of players aged 30 or above by two years which has seen many experienced players turn down the one year extension to move to other clubs.
It is clear that Arsene Wenger has huge faith in Andrei Arshavin and has supported him completely during his bad patch. But if he does not sign before the summer, then Wenger will be in a dilemma whether or not to offer him the contract he desires. If Arshavin decides not to extend his contract in the summer, it is conceivable that Wenger might cash in on the Russian star in order to recoup the £15 million that they spent on him.
If Arshavin is allowed to leave, so does Wenger sign a new player or looks to other Arsenal players like Carlos Vela and Theo Walcott to fill the void left by the departure of the influential Russian.
Should Arsene Wenger sign the £15 million rated youngster Eden Hazard?
Belgium International Eden Hazard is rated very highly by many experts and managers and is undeniably very talented. The tricky Lille winger is only 19 and has a long way to go in his career. There are many clubs who are tracking the progress of Hazard and will look to sign him. He apparently turned down a £12 million offer from Chelsea and said that he will be interested to move to a club which could provide good opportunities to youngsters like Arsenal.
Arsene Wenger is also reportedly looking to sign the youngster and with Manchester United allegedly joining the race, it is important that he makes the right offer if he decides to secure the services of the Belgium winger. Hazard will most probably be interested to sign the winger; so whether or not Wenger decides to sign him is the question.
Are Theo Walcott, Jay Emmanuel Thomas and Carlos Vela ready to replace Andrei Arshavin?
Theo Walcott is one of the most highly rated youngsters at Arsenal and having been in the spotlight from a very young age, he has been under pressure to perform all his career. But having been dropped from the England squad in the World Cup, he has had time to relax and develop without much pressure.
He was superb at the start of the season and his injury on international duty was rather unfortunate and sidelined him for around six weeks. However he has subsequently recovered from his injury, he has not been able to establish himself in the team because of the form of Samir Nasri and Wenger's reluctance to remove Arshavin from the starting line-up.
Carlos Vela is another youngster who has not enjoyed too much playing time this season and has been frustrated by not even been named amongst the substitutes in a number of games. He can be effective on the wings or in the centre and Wenger could decide to give him more playing time in the future if Arshavin does leave.
Jay Emmanuel Thomas can consider himself rather unlucky that he has still not had too many minutes on the field despite impressing greatly in the reserves. He can play in a number of positions and has been successful for the reserves as a winger.
Wenger could trust these youngsters to do the job if Arshavin leaves and could spend the money to reinforce some other areas. Arshavin brings with him a lot of experience which is important for the Gunners who have a young side which is why Wenger is interested in renewing the contract of Arshavin. The Russian midfielder's inconsistency presents a big dilemma for the French tactician and being an intelligent manager, his decision could be important in shaping up the future for the Gunnners.