Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta should refrain from letting Sokratis Papastathopoulos and David Luiz leave the club at the end of the season because the duo are “really good players” who have been “solid and more complimentary together” under the Spanish coach, believes Bacary Sagna.
Luiz’s future is up in the air just a year after joining the Gunners, with his contract set to expire this summer, while Sokratis’ deal expires in 2021 and is unlikely to be extended.
Arsenal have an option to lengthen Luiz’s agreement by another 12 months but the option to do so expires on June 30 and financial issues mean the club may require the Brazilian to take a pay cut on his £125,000-a-week wages.
That is on top of the 12.5 per cent salary decrease that the bulk of the first-team squad have agreed to until next March due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Meanwhile Greek centre-back Sokratis, who has also been used at right-back by Arteta, has made it clear he will ask to leave the Emirates this summer if he is not expected to have an important role next season.
Sokratis is seen as one of the more expendable options at the back as Arteta looks to restructure his back-line, with the permanent addition of Pablo Mari likely and the imminent arrival of William Saliba after a season on loan at Saint-Etienne.
The duo are expected to be crucial options next term, and if Luiz stays then he too will see a good amount of game time, which could leave Sokratis out in the cold, particularly if they do not qualify for European football.
But Sagna believes Arsenal should keep both Luiz, 33, and Sokratis, 31, and would particularly like to see the former enjoy a full season under Arteta’s tutelage.
The Frenchman told Premier League Productions: “I believe he needs to give them some stability because they have been struggling for quite a long time now, especially at centre-back, people were not happy.
“I believe Sokratis and David Luiz are really good players.
“I don’t know if they have been under pressure because we kept talking about them and after committing quite a few mistakes they were on the radar.
“But since Mikel came I think they are more solid and more complimentary together.
“Arsenal doesn’t concede many goals either so I can tell that there is an improvement.
“I’ve seen Luiz might be going at the end of the season but it would be a great thing for me to see him playing another season, a full season, under Mikel.
“I think Mikel just needs time to settle the defence and make them stronger.”
Luiz was full of praise for Arteta when in conversation with Arsenal legend Ian Wright for Adidas in April and underlined his desire to help get Arsenal back to the top with the north Londoners having fallen by the wayside in recent years.
“Mikel is doing amazing, I am enjoying being almost 33 years old and still learning and improving and to see how beautiful football is,” the former Chelsea defender said.
“Every day he changes something more and changes something more and how a new philosophy can still improve me as a person, a player as a leader.
“Mikel has tried to make us understand where to play and how to play. He gives us a plan: ‘If the team is like that, if there is a low block parking the bus how you can create, take the responsibility to make a risky pass.’
“If the pass arrives there then we create an opportunity and score the goal, if the pass doesn’t arrive there we can win the ball back quickly.
“Mikel has brought for the club a philosophy where everybody has to think for the best of the club. And the best of the club is to make the club shine again.
“Everybody, not just players, everyday has to breathe this oxygen, ‘this club is to win’.
“It doesn’t matter when, or by who, that was lost. What matters is to bring it back.”