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Saturday, February 25

Arsene Wenger: Five Arsenal players who could follow Arsene Wenger out if he leaves

One of the most frequent warnings given to the "Wenger out" section among Arsenal fans is that they should be careful what they wish for.
The Guardian offered another reminder of that on Friday by reporting that right-back Hector Bellerin would be open to leaving the club and returning to Barcelona if Arsene Wenger was to step down as manager this summer when his contract expires.
While the chances of Bellerin actually leaving seem small -- he tied himself down to a six-year contract recently -- it seems clear that if Wenger goes, several key members of the Arsenal squad could head for the exit as well.
Some players -- like Mathieu Debuchy, Carl Jenkinson and possibly Kieran Gibbs -- are expected to move on regardless of what happens on the managerial front. But with many others, Wenger's decision is likely to have a direct impact on their own futures.
Here's a look at five Arsenal players who could decide to follow Wenger out the door.

Mesut Ozil

The Germany playmaker is perhaps the most likely summer departure if Wenger decides to step down. Ozil has made it clear he will not sign a new contract until he knows who the manager will be next season, and has repeatedly said Wenger was one of the main reasons he signed for Arsenal in the first place. While his form has been questioned in recent months, he should not have any shortage of offers and Arsenal would probably be forced to sell him if he pushes for a move.
Alexis Sanchez
Sanchez, of course, is in the same boat as Ozil. Both are in high demand and have contracts that expire in 2018, meaning the Gunners may have to cash in on Sanchez as well if he can't be persuaded to sign an extension. However, Sanchez could be more willing to play under a different manager at Arsenal, and the club could well prioritise keeping him over Ozil. But it seems clear that the Chile forward will be able to decide his own future this summer. And if Wenger goes, he'll have to think twice about staying.

Bellerin is under contract, but may be tempted to move back to Barcelona.

Hector Bellerin

Bellerin has long been a target for his boyhood club Barcelona, but Arsenal tied him down for the long-term when the Spaniard signed a new long-term contract. The Guardian's report put his future in doubt once again by claiming he decided to sign that deal because he thought Wenger would stay. But unless his contract has some kind of get-out clause, Arsenal would have no reason to sell him, so any move this summer seems unlikely. If Bellerin really feels that strongly about Wenger, he would have been smart to follow Ozil's example in holding off on putting pen to paper.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain

The England international has said he will weigh up his options this summer after growing increasingly frustrated with his failure to lock down a regular starting role, and the managerial situation will surely affect his decision. While Wenger continues to use Oxlade-Chamberlain sparingly, he has nurtured the midfielder since he was a teenager and continues to rate him highly. It would probably be difficult for Chamberlain to leave Arsenal at this stage, but a managerial change could make the decision a lot easier. Judging by recent reports, he has admirers at both Manchester United and Everton who are ready to pounce -- although the chances of those rumours being fuelled by an agent trying to negotiate a new contract seem fairly high.

David Ospina

The Colombia goalkeeper's future may be in doubt regardless of what Wenger decides as he has continued to play second fiddle to Petr Cech this season. Wenger convinced him to stay at the club last summer by promising to play him in the Champions League, as well as the FA Cup, and new manager would be unlikely to give him those assurances, increasing the likelihood of Ospina moving elsewhere in search of a regular starting role.

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