Arsenal legend Ray Parlour agrees that Arsenal need to keep Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil past January if they’re going to have any hope of finishing in the top four.
Parlour believes that Arsenal need to risk allowing Alexis and Ozil to leave on a free at the end of the season in favour of the greater good, i.e. potentially finishing in the top four.
“They’re important for the season, to get back into that top four you need your best players. How’d you replace them?,” Parlour told talkSPORT.
“At this time of the year it’s not a great time to replace players of that calibre.
“They’re not many players out there who could do the same good as them two. Sanchez you would lose all his goals, Ozil is creative.
“That’s a gamble you take (letting them stay amid talks with foreign clubs) but also they’re looking at their own careers aren’t they and they want to do as well as they can.
“I’ve looked at their body language since they haven’t signed a contract and against Spurs was the best.
“I know it was Spurs and the north London derby and you’d expect that, but Ozil chasing back into his own half and tackling people. I hadn’t seen that this season so I think the attitude is right.
“You can only sense that during training sessions whether the attitude is dropping off in certain players if they want to leave, some players sulk.
“But I don’t think Sanchez, it’s in his makeup, he loves football. He goes out there and tries his best every single game, so that’s why you always have to look at the characters of the players as well.
“If you’ve got a player who is going to sulk and upset other players in the dressing room, then you might have to get rid of them in January, but I don’t think Sanchez is that type of player.
“If I’m a player for Arsenal in midfield, I want him in front of me because he’s the one who is going to be chasing people down, I can go tight on my man.
“It’s a lot easier to play when you’ve got people like (Luis) Suarez did at Liverpool when he was there, so I think that is the right decision from Arsenal’s point of view.”
Both Alexis and Ozil are out of contract in June and if the Gunners want to cash in on either, their last chance is in January. However, if by keeping both players for the remainder of the campaign Arsenal manage to regain their place in the Premier League’s top four, the pay-off might be worth the lack of transfer fees.
As it stands, neither player looks particularly keen to stay, even though most of us predicted that Alexis would be the only one to leave at the end of last season. If we finish in the top four, who knows, maybe they could change their mind.
Another reason to keep them past January is that Arsenal would be strengthening their rivals by selling, since Alexis has been linked with Manchester City and Ozil is said to be off to United. Both clubs are above Wenger’s men in the table at the moment, so why weaken ourselves and making them stronger? As Parlour says, they need to stay in north London.