ALEX Oxlade-Chamberlain is in line for a significant pay rise at Arsenal this summer, with the club hoping to part fund new deals for existing players by trimming peripheral squad members from their wage bill.
Although Arsenal do have cash reserves of more than £100million, they are close to breaking even on their turnover largely because of a wage bill that has increased by around £20million over the past year. It means that easing the club's financial burden is key, with the likes of Manuel Almunia, Marouane Chamakh, Sebastien Squillaci, Carlos Vela, Denilson, Nicklas Bendtner and Chu Young Park due to discuss their futures.
Robin van Persie and Theo Walcott are the two highest profile players set for contract talks this summer, but Oxlade-Chamberlain can also expect the offer of a substantially improved deal. At the age of 17 and having only ever played in League One when he signed last summer, Oxlade-Chamberlain is among the lowest earners in the first-team squad on around £25,000 a week.
Arsene Wenger, the Arsenal manager, has been surprised and delighted by his improvement and there is a recognition that the winger should be rewarded accordingly.
Van Persie has made it clear that he will hold talks only at the end of the season and, although Walcott has held preliminary discussions on his contract, no decisions are expected until the summer.
Arsenal's scope to offer substantially increased offers, however, will clearly be impacted by their success in offloading fringe players.
An £11m deal for Lukas Podolski is likely to be announced within the next week, but Mario Gotze, another transfer target, signed a new deal yesterday that commits him to Borussia Dortmund until 2016.