Mikel Arteta has signed a brand new Arsenal contract that was announced this morning.
The deal was awarded to the Spaniard for his work this season in overhauling the squad and convincing the ownership that he is the person to lead the Gunners on a progressive upwards path to silverware.
The timing of the decision to announce the new deal has been debated since the announcement on posts across the media.
Some Arsenal supporters have claimed that without top-four, Arteta is yet to earn his new deal.
This seems rather harsh considering the idea of being in a top-four race at the start of the season, let alone leading it, was something of an outlandish ambition.
That said, the likelihood is this is a deal that the club had always expected to happen regardless of whether the club finished in the top four or top six.
Londonreported earlier this year that the club were very confident of renewing Arteta’s contract.
Therefore the conversation around the timing of the announcement should be separate from the debate around whether he should have been offered one.
So why now? Arsenal are coming off the back of three huge victories against Chelsea, Manchester United and West Ham.
The mood is good and the position in the Premier League table is strong.
What is most significant is the positive impact news like this can have on both the squad and the fans in the ground.
The games this weekend could be the most pivotal of the season so far.
Arsenal have a great chance to grab all three points against Leeds United this weekend, whilst Tottenham must travel to Anfield to play title challengers Liverpool.
Should Arsenal win and Spurs drop points, the Gunners can confirm Champions League football for next season with a win in the North London Derby.
The signing of this contract could perform what might be akin to the ‘new manager bounce‘ that is seen at clubs when they bring in a new coach.
Whilst there is no actual change taking place as such, the assurance that a fresh contract brings will be a lift.
In his pre-match press conference ahead of the clash with Leeds, Arteta confirmed that the players had been asking about it.
Perhaps it was causing somewhat of a distraction that is no longer there for a crunch weekend of games.
“They found out this morning. Some of them asked me in the past because they have questions. But I don’t like to talk about that. This afternoon it’s done,” Arteta said.
Arteta also confirmed the timing of the offer which took place after the defeat to Southampton.
A third successive loss prior to the run against Chelsea, United and West Ham.
“The club offered me the contract when we lost three matches,” said Arteta.
This is quite the statement considering that top-four hopes looked bleak at this time, especially with three tough games to go.
The reaction of the team from this point, with only Arteta in the know about the situation, was significant.
Now the squad are aware that Arteta will be continuing, the potential for the bounce from the news is very exciting.
Any pre-transfer window negotiations have the added security that potential signings know Arteta’s future lies with Arsenal.
Of course, there is a chance that Arsenal fail to qualify for the top four.
Will the club look naive for then not waiting till the end of the season? They shouldn’t.
Imagine the scenario that we finished fifth and then the club announce the new deal.
Not only would that cause arguably more backlash than it did for a section of supporters now, but I would ask a simple question.
Why not announce it earlier and try to give a mentality lift to the players and supporters creating the atmosphere in the run-in? Is that not a missed opportunity?
It has been decided and this is the state of play.
Win the next two and you could be a Champions League side next season.
Let’s get behind the team and the manager and will them onwards to their season’s unexpected goal.