With the buzzards and vultures circling Arsenal’s Champion League-less carcass, it seems the scavenger birds are intent on picking off the finest cuts of meat.
It’s not impossible
Bellerin, Özil and Alexis all have clubs vying for their attention.
Özil looks the most likely to stay this summer, with wages of £280,000 being mooted for the German playmaker.
Bellerin could also stay as long as he doesn’t fall asleep in the company of Pepe Reina, Gerard Pique and Carlos Puyol and wake up in full Barcelona pyjamas and a forged signature on a contract.
Alexis, sadly, looks set to leave. The Chilean cut a forlorn figure last season, looking increasingly frustrated with both teammates and management at the club.
His loss will be severely felt. He is the club’s leading scorer in the Premier League with 24 goals, double Giroud’s tally, who comes in at second place. His ability to create something out of nothing is the most valuable commodity in football.
Arsenal have had players in the past who have scored similar season totals to Alexis’ but very few who have that rare ability to conjure something from nothing. He is a big game player with a ruthlessness so rarely seen at Arsenal.
Would Walcott or Giroud have tucked the ball past Thibaut Courtois in the FA Cup final if they had suspected offside or hand ball? I sincerely doubt it.
What’s interesting is that he seems to fair better away from home than at the Emirates.
This may be due to teams being forced to act offensively in their home games allowing space for Arsenal in behind or it may be a result of Alexis’ winning mentality. Whatever the reason, it has allowed Arsenal to go to some very difficult stadiums and get some hard earned points.
Alexis is one of the few players in the squad who feels entitled to shoot on sight. Wenger often feels the urge to coach this instinctive shooting out of his players. However, Wenger either feels that Alexis is capable of forcing a goal, more often than not, or the Chilean simply hasn’t listened to Wenger’s instructions.
Alexis is not just a goal-scorer. He also leads the assists charts at the club. Despite a wonderful selfishness from the Chilean in front of goal, Alexis still knows when to square or tee up a colleague. This in itself is hard to teach. Many players, and you will notice this with Ramsey more than anyone, fail to assess their options once they get into a decent shooting position. Sanchez, normally has the ability to score or failing that, usually picks out the right option.
So leading scorer and top of the assist charts last season, how does Wenger replace that?
As a player alone, it’s difficult. Why would top players want to join Arsenal when the depiction of the club is one of apathy and indifference to winning trophies? Alexis joined believing that Arsenal would continue to sign players of a similar calibre but that didn’t prove to be true.
After signing Alexis, Arsenal Football Club were in a position of power: they were in the Champions League; they had just signed one of the most exciting players at the World Cup; and looked like a club who would be competing for major trophies again. However, three years later and not much has changed – other than Arsenal’s rivals getting stronger whilst Arsenal stagnated.
It is not, however, impossible.
Arsenal are unlikely to ever compete with Real Madrid or Barcelona for the world’s elite – at least not with Stan Kroenke as owner. However, there are players of similar pedigree available, who could certainly match that of Alexis’.
Let’s not forget, Alexis was unwanted by Barcelona. He was deemed surplus to requirements. That is no slight on the Chilean, rather an indication that there are options available to Arsenal.
2. Target an outcast from one of the elite