I’m sure that for a lot of people, Alexis Sanchez’ quotes this week made them feel like Bill Murray in Groundhog Day, wanting to take a hammer to the alarm clock that makes the same annoying sound again and again and again.
- If Alexis does decide that he’s better off elsewhere, then what?
- Does it matter who Arsenal sell Alexis Sanchez to?
- Is Alexis Sanchez irreplaceable?
“I want to keep myself in a winning team and stay in the same city.”
You don’t have to be Kojak to figure out what Alexis is saying between the lines here; He loves where he lives and he wants to win stuff. It’s not exactly the longest list of conditions that need to be met for him to be happy, but they’re not the hardest to fulfil either. All you have to do is be a club in London and display an ability to be competitive, and Alexis will consider playing for you.
Arsenal are definitely the former, obviously.
But the latter?
We can say for certain that this season has not turned out to be the case, and that the last few seasons as a whole have been pretty underwhelming on the whole ‘challenging for a league title’ front.
So as much as Arsenal want to it to be known that they are trying their utmost to be ‘competitive’, it’s hard to argue that they’re holding up their end of the bargain.
So if Alexis does decide that he’s better off elsewhere, then what?
Well, there are two key questions at the heart of this:
Does it matter who Arsenal sell Alexis Sanchez to?
No. Not in the slightest.
Arsenal fans have too much experience of seeing their club sell their best players, in their prime, to direct rivals in recent times, but the fact of the matter is that doing so has almost always benefited Arsenal in the long run.
Samir Nasri, Emmanuel Adebayor, Cesc Fabregas, Thomas Vermaelen all left the club and never regained the form they had whilst at Arsenal.
Yes, there’s a name missing from that list, and that name is Robin van Persie.
He, of course, was sold to Manchester United and then promptly won the league by a quadrillion points whilst being their best player. We did help a rival win the league. But, that rival paid £25 million for a player with as many years left on his contract as he had good ankles (one).
Arsenal absolutely gambled that van Persie’s health would fail him, whilst United gambled that it wouldn’t.
For one year, United were right.
Arsenal wouldn’t have won the league with van Persie that season, their team wasn’t strong enough. The money that Arsenal received for him was invested into three players; Lukas Podolski, Olivier Giroud and Santi Cazorla. If we had kept van Persie, and he left as a free agent in the summer, would Arsenal have been in a position to maintain their Champions League spot without those three players?
So if Alexis wants to leave, then let him.
Sell him to the highest bidder.
If that means Chelsea, then so be it.
He’d have to play right wing for them, as Eden Hazard and Diego Costa are nailed down on their teamsheet at left wing and striker respectively, and we’ve seen how his effectiveness diminishes when playing on the right for Arsenal. If Chelsea sell Costa, they’ll buy Romelu Lukaku to replace him in a like for like replacement, not Alexis.
If they sell Hazard to Real Madrid or Barcelona and replace him with Alexis, then they’re not as good.
He’s not a perfect fit at Manchester City either. With Raheem Sterling and Leroy Sane on the wings, they don’t need someone else out there. Pep Guardiola has already shown his dismay at how much Sergio Aguero likes to leave the penalty box in order to get the ball, do you really think he’ll pay £50million for a striker who plays as deep as Alexis likes to? No chance.
Whoever buys Alexis will have their own problems to deal with, all Arsenal need to worry about is maximizing how much they get in return for him.
This leads to the second question…
Is Alexis Sanchez irreplaceable?
It won’t be cheap, obviously, but there is an abundance of attacking talent that is within Arsenal’s budget at the moment, even without selling their star striker. The issue isn’t with who you replace Alexis is, but why.
If the idea is to play the same way we have for the last few years, then Arsenal are in trouble. But if Arsene Wenger does indeed try to reinvent both himself and the way Arsenal play, then there are a plethora of options available to him.
If he thinks he has enough strikers and wants a winger, then buy Yannick Carrasco from Atletico Madrid. If he wants his wide player to create, like with Robert Pires or Andrei Arshavin, then buy Bernardo Silva from Monaco.
If he wants a wide player who can play up front as well, buy Marco Reus from Dortmund.
If he wants a striker who can do a job out wide at times, buy Alexandre Lacazette from Lyon.
If he wants the best young striker in the world, then overpay for Kylian Mbappe from Monaco.
If he thinks the midfield needs fixing, then buy Steven N’Zonzi from Sevilla to play in front of the back four.
If he doesn’t think that Mesut Özil can play as a box to box midfielder in a 4–3–3, then buy Mahmoud Dahoud from Borussia Monchengladbach or, with a couple of extra euros, Corentin Tolisso from Lyon.
There’s no reason that Arsenal can’t get at least two players from that group alone with the money they currently have plus any transfer fee received for Alexis.
The problem at hand isn’t that Alexis wants to leave, it’s that nobody trusts the club to spend the money in a fashion that will help the team become competitive again.
Selling Alexis isn’t the problem. It’s the person choosing his replacement who is