Let’s make one thing clear straight off the bat. Alexis Sanchez is Arsenal’s best player since Robin van Persie was scoring when he wanted, maybe even since Thierry Henry just over 10 years ago.
As an Arsenal fan I don’t want to see a talent of Sanchez’s quality leave, but it’s looking more and more likely that selling him before this transfer window closes is the best move for everyone involved.
We have seen eye-popping amounts of money thrown around this summer, even without taking into account the Neymar-to-PSG madness. £75 million for Romelu Lukaku, £54 million for Kyle Walker, a potential £60 million for Virgil van Dijk… It would be insanity in this market to hold onto Sanchez for this season and risk losing him for nothing next summer. Any transfer fee received can immediately be put into finding a replacement, without a transfer fee Arsenal are up the proverbial creek without an instrument of propulsion.
Reports are once again surfacing that Manchester City, at the behest of Pep Guardiola, are waving £60 million at Arsenal for Sanchez, as well as a reported £400,000-a-week contract for the Chilean forward.
The thought of a Sanchez-Aguero-Jesus trifecta in front of the likes of David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne should be enough to make the rest of the Premier League tremble, but for Arsenal, that doesn’t really matter anymore.
After years of failed challenges and fourth-place finishes, the idea of Arsenal competing for the Premier League title is more outlandish than the thought of Tottenham winning it, which is something I never thought I would write. Arsenal simply don’t have the defensive stability or attacking consistency to mount a challenge. We have seen that Sanchez and Mesut Ozil, two world-class players, are not enough to carry Arsenal into April as a title challenger, never mind winning it in May.
Arsenal’s expectation this year is to get back into the Champions League, and even that may be beyond them. Going into the 2018/19 season without top tier European football AND no Alexis will make it even harder to attract a quality replacement, or stave off approaches from other clubs for the likes of Hector Bellerin or Shkodran Mustafi.
Arsenal don’t have an in-house replacement for Alexis, Alex Iwobi has shown flashes, and Ainsley Maitland-Niles oozes potential, but neither are the pocket dynamos that Alexis is. But then, no one really is.
What Arsenal need to look for is a left sided player that can cut in and play direct, attacking football as well as slowing the pace and passing it around.
Napoli’s Lorenzo Insigne, 26, could be an immediate purchase and slide right into the Arsenal side with little change. If Arsene fancies a more traditional winger then Marco Reus could be worth the risk too.
Settling the squad
Much like last year and the endless “Wenger Out/In” saga, the Alexis rumblings are a distraction the team could do without. Another 10 months of it could shatter the squad and see an already fragile team fall further behind in the race for a top four spot. If the first game of the season is anything to go by, they need Alexis, or whoever replaces him, on the pitch right now. Simply trying to get by without that critical piece of the machine is not going to suffice. Arsene needs to make a decision now, and that decision should be to shake Alexis’ hand, thank him for all his hard work, and wish him well in his future endeavours.
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