David Luiz’s future at Arsenal is in serious doubt, with the club yet to extend his contract beyond the end of next month and financial restrictions likely to mean his spell with Mikel Arteta’s side is curtailed after a year.
Arsenal have the option to extend the centre-back’s deal by extra 12 months when the contract expires on 30 June, a detail that emerged on Wednesday after it had been widely believed that he signed a two-year contract upon joining from Chelsea last summer.
No final decision over his future has been taken but the club are acutely conscious that David Luiz, who turned 33 last month, is nearing the end of his top-level career while sitting among their highest earners.
That would have been less of a problem before the Covid-19 shutdown, but Arsenal have been forced to make significant inroads into a £230m annual wage bill that is unsustainable in the present climate. In April they agreed salary reductions of 12.5% with the majority of their squad, a cut that will apply for the next year, but jettisoning David Luiz would remove a six-figure weekly wage from their books and perhaps allow some wriggle room for contract talks with the likes of Bukayo Saka and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
David Luiz is widely held to have been important to Arsenal’s improved form under Arteta, drawing praise from the head coach for his commitment in January. But there are understood to be mixed views on the Brazilian among Arteta’s coaching staff, including suggestions that his influence in the dressing room is not always wielded positively.
Regardless of his future beyond this summer, David Luiz may see his contract extended to the end of the delayed season, in line with other free agents across the Premier League. Arsenal would be able to bring William Saliba, the highly rated young defender who has spent the campaign on loan at St Etienne, into their thinking after 30 June but the Ligue 1 season was terminated four weeks ago and the 19-year-old would be well short of match practice, even by current standards.