Arsenal legend Nigel Winterburn says he is nervous that his former club could lose star players Bukayo Saka and Gabriel Martinelli to other clubs.
The forward duo have been in imperious form this season, helping the Gunners to sit top of the Premier League after 10 games.
Along with Manchester City, who are in second, they are the only team not playing in the upcoming midweek fixtures. But they are guaranteed to enter the weekend schedule top of the table.
Both players have made 10 league appearances for the Gunners this term, with Saka scoring four times and assisting on another four occasions.
The 21-year-old netted in Arsenal’s 1-0 win over Leeds on Sunday, and also scored twice in their 3-2 win over Liverpool the previous week.
Martinelli also starred in the latter match. He ran the Liverpool defence ragged, provided an assist and scored in the opening minute of the game. He has four goals and two assists to his name, from 10 league appearances, this term.
Their form, along with the displays of centre-back William Saliba, has understandably led Arsenal to consider awarding them new deals. The Athletic report that is indeed the plan.
Arsenal do have an issue in this situation, in that Saliba’s deal expires next summer, whilst Saka and Martinelli have contracts until 2024. However, the club also have extension options that they can trigger.
The same source claims that talks with Saka are “most advanced” out of the trio. But Winterburn, who starred for the Gunners between 1987 and 2000, is still concerned that the Gunners could lose two of their top stars.
Winterburn fears over Saka, Martinelli futures
Speaking exclusively to Ladbrokes: Fanzone (quotes via Daily Star), the former Arsenal left-back admitted he gets nervous whenever there is contract talks.
He explained: “Gabriel Martinelli and Bukayo Saka, they are young players that need to be tied down on long-term deals.
“I don’t have an issue with them jumping from £30-50k, up to £150k-£200k a week. I’m not the man paying it, for one!
“But I’ve always thought there was a scale at Arsenal, and those guys are now regular first-teamers – particularly Saka.
“I’m nervous because they are two young, sensational players and I would hate if they left the club – in particular to go to another team in the Premier League.”
Both players have received huge praise in recent weeks. Speaking on BT Sport after the Gunners’ 1-0 win over Bodø/Glimt in the Europa League on Thursday, Joe Cole said of goalscorer Saka (quotes via Daily Mail): “You have to understand how young he is, where he is in his career.
“Arsenal have got such a gem here. He’s already so experienced. He’s one of the leaders of the team on the pitch. He takes responsibility.
“He’s a fantastic player, and he’s one that Arsenal have got to tie down, and build this new regime, this new great side that seems to be emerging [around him].”
Mikel Arteta and Arsenal will be working hard to ensure that Saka and Martinelli commit to the Emirates Stadium on a longer-term basis than currently.