Arsenal players are said to have been 'shocked' that Aaron Ramsey was dropped for Saturday's clash with Chelsea and appears to many to have been made a scapegoat by manager Unai Emery for the previous weekend's defeat against Manchester City.
It was rumoured during the summer that Emery had visions of making Ramsey his new captain and wanted to build a team around the Welshman, but those plans appear to have changed.
According to the Daily Mirror, Emery's decision to bench Ramsey was met with surprise by other players, especially since others kept their places. Although it is said that the manager has made it clear he isn't blaming individuals and is working on creating stronger team unity.
Ramsey had started in the one-sided 2-0 defeat against City and only appeared with 22 minutes remaining of the visit to Stamford Bridge as a replacement for Mesut Ozil.
Whether his absence had anything to do with his contract situation remains to be seen.
The 27-year-old, who is Arsenal's longest serving player, is currently in the final 12 months of his Gunners contract and is locked in ongoing negotiations with the club. It is certainly plausible that Emery could be concerned the dragged out saga is becoming a distraction.
If he continues to run his contract down, Arsenal may have to entertain the notion of selling Ramsey, either now if a foreign club is interested - Barcelona have been linked - or in January to ensure that they can at least command some kind of transfer fee.