David Luiz's future at Arsenal has been heavily speculated on over the past few weeks, with talk of a Benfica return mooted, but the situation has taken another turn over some astronomical demands.
There is an optional clause in his Arsenal contract to extend his stay in north London for a further 12 months - having initially signed for just one season - but with no decision made as of yet, it remains to be seen whether the Brazilian's short stay with the Gunners will continue.
? "They are a threat, they showed at the Emirates that if you're not at it on the day, they're going to create a lot of issues. We better be ready because it's going to be a really tough game for us."— Arsenal (@Arsenal) June 19, 2020
? @m8arteta previews #BHAARS ?
It's since been claimed by the Daily Mail that the reason for talks stalling over this 12-month extension is Luiz's desire for a further year on top. Not just that though; he's asking for a staggering £120k-a-week.
Arsenal's financial situation is well-documented, so their reluctance to pay such considerable wages for the next 24 months is wholly understandable.
Mikel Arteta did, however, state in his most recent press-conference (via Goal) that he believes in Luiz, although the impact of COVID-19 will leave the club with big decisions to make.
“Me personally I am going to defend him with everything I have because I believe in him," he stated. "He has shown me a lot of things in his time here and his career speaks for itself.
“We cannot forget the financial situation. The way that COVID-19 has hit every club and the economy in general, it’s going to have an impact. What the club is doing at the moment is assessing the situation and trying to clarify a lot of uncertainties that we have in the future. We have to make big decisions and time-wise it is difficult to fit them in with our needs."
So, where does this leave Luiz's future then?
Also, have you noticed how we haven't mentioned any of the mistakes he's made yet? Yeah, that's coming, because you will struggle to find a single reason why taking Luiz on for one more season, let alone two, makes any worthwhile sense.
Let's dive in.
You could really end the segment there, but when something is so painstakingly evident, it requires further analysis.
Firstly, the stats don't lie. He's already conceded four penalties in the Premier League this season - double that of the nearest 'challenger' - with not a single one of them in any way excusable.
It can't be ignored, however, that the lack of protection from the Arsenal midfield leaves the defenders horribly exposed. Far too often the back four are in a position to make mistakes, or be caught out, as their lack of a defensive screen in front puts them in the firing line.
However, Luiz's conceded spot-kicks have consisted of mindless shirt tugs or, as the professionals say, brain farts. The only one which he can have any leeway on is the one at Stamford Bridge - where fellow calamitous alumni Shkodran Mustafi left him out to dry - but even then it would have possibly been smarter to let the goal happen rather than get sent off and concede the penalty.
But these complete losses of concentration are not just in the obvious mistakes; they're on show most weeks with bemusing choices of passes or eccentric overplaying in possession. He shoots himself in the foot more often than not, which does little to inspire any modicum of confidence throughout the rest of the side.
Buckling under pressure and baffling decision making are not the traits you'd expect, or demand, from a 33-year-old who's played over 550 career matches. It's gone on for far too long and, in truth, should he be the option alongside the incoming William Saliba, I fear for the Frenchman's career. Genuinely.
The Finances Mustn't Go to Waste
'Finances? Ha! What finances!'
Well...yes, true, but whatever scrapings there are at the bottom of the piggy bank can not, and should not, be wasted on a player who has cost his side valuable points this season. £120k-a-week for someone who has been made the laughing stock of the division? It's financial idiocy if that's the route taken.
And this is for TWO YEARS?!?!
He paints a cumbersome mess now at 33, but you dread to think how much worse he can actually get over the next two years based on this season's showings. This is money the club simply doesn't have. Being held to ransom over a player who you'd have to pay someone to take off your hands? It's daylight robbery being performed by a one-armed bandit. Arteta needs to spend any money he has available on improvement, not deterioration.
2015 - David Luiz is the first player to be sent off, concede a penalty and commit an error leading to an opposition goal in a Premier League match since Carl Jenkinson for West Ham vs Bournemouth in August 2015. Hat-Trick. #MCIARS pic.twitter.com/zpLK6yDfxm— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) June 17, 2020
There are so many issues at Arsenal, squad and otherwise, with this particular contract debacle just added weight on the handbrake dragging the club back. If the money is really there, use it elsewhere. Or, buy Gunnersaurus a lifetime supply of scotch eggs. Who cares? Just anything else.
This is, by the way, no attack on the man himself, who is clearly a friendly, welcoming human being and well-liked wherever he goes. That's not in question.
It's just that he's crap.
It Will Stunt the Youth Coming Through
There are far too many central defenders at Arsenal at present, seven, to be precise, but with William Saliba coming in there is hope - or premature expectation - that he'll up the quality.
Sokratis and Mustafi will ideally leave, but Luiz must join them. If he is to stay at the club it will only work as a hindrance to the players coming through who are deserving of a chance.
Daniel Ballard and Zech Medley are just two promising academy stars, and keeping lumbering 30-somethings at the club with appalling displays on their recent track records is nothing but detrimental to their progress.
Saliba is not an academy product, but at just 19, he'll need all the experience and guidance he can get. He shouldn't be listening to advice from someone who's conceded four penalties this season and been sent off twice.
The Positives That Could Come From Him Staying
Ha! Think again.