Whatever Arsenal’s struggles, turning down £60m for Alexis was the right call… provided they don’t sell him in January.
The Chilean’s reintegration into the Arsenal team hasn’t been the smoothest. His lack of fitness and form have seen him in-and-out of the team, and just a single goal in seven appearances doesn’t seem ample reward for the sheer effort it took to keep hold of him.
There now seems a real chance that Arsenal could sell him in January; an idea Arsene Wenger was surprisingly open to after the tough stance he took in the summer.
Let’s be clear: selling Alexis in January for far less than what they could have received in the summer would be stupid.
The decision to keep him was based on their inability to sign a replacement. This reasoning is key, as it suggests that the primary motivation behind keeping him was to keep their squad strong, and not weaken it for the sake of extra money.
Additional money isn’t much use to the club if it can’t be reinvested in the right player, but keeping Alexis Sanchez would be. Hence, if Arsenal are going to keep him, they need to see that decision through to the end, and receive every benefit they can from doing so.
Any other scenario would just highlight a desperate lack of planning.
There’s no getting away from the fact that this entire situation has been handled poorly by Arsenal. The last minute decision to sell, followed by the failure to sign Thomas Lemar was farcical enough. Then you consider that the situation arose from the failure to extend his contract in the first place, and it makes you wonder why more decisive action wasn’t taken earlier.
In the end, Arsenal had to take the gamble of keeping him to make it look like they had a plan all along. It was necessary damage control to prevent a bad situation from getting much worse.
Of course, there are plenty of merits to keeping him. It’s become clear that no combination of Alex Iwobi, Danny Welbeck and Theo Walcott can immediately fill the void Alexis leaves. Even a sulking Alexis who is playing ten or twenty percent below his best still has more quality than many other attackers in Arsenal’s squad.
That might say more about Arsenal’s depth than it does about him, but it’s the situation we find ourselves in, and not one we should be trying to fix mid-season.
In effect, we’re banking on Alexis’ match-winning ability to drag us back into the top four.
It may not look like the smartest decision now, but if a handful of special moments proves to be the difference between success and nothing, then Wenger should have no regrets about turning down the money.