Why Arsenal should cash in on Alexis Sanchez before the summer window closes
There is a school of thought which suggests that if Arsenal are in a world of trouble now, their plight would worsen considerably without their talisman Alexis Sanchez.
While there are many who share this view, it is entirely at odds with the Chilean’s demeanour and the performance he delivered at Anfield on Sunday. Sure, Sanchez was one of Arsenal’s more energetic and willing runners on the day, but he yielded absolutely no influence in the attacking third and appeared disillusioned throughout.
So while Gunners’ fans recoiled when BBC Sport revealed that Manchester City had launched a last-ditch, £50 million move for the forward, there is an argument that Arsenal should cash in on their most valuable asset and begin to redress the issues that have plagued the club in recent times.
What form could the deal take?
In some respects, the notion of selling Sanchez seems bizarre. After all, the 28-year-old was Arsenal’s top scorer with 24 league goals last season, while his presence and energy on the pitch often carried the Gunners during crucial moments.
Manager Arsene Wenger also suggested that Sanchez would respect his decision to retain his services for the final year of his contract, seemingly ruling out any chances of a move during the summer window.
Pep Guardiola is well-aware of the Chilean’s qualities after the two worked together at Barcelona, and has been keen to pursue a deal all summer. While they appear to have left their move late, there is a growing sense that the deal could now be completed before Thursday’s transfer deadline.
In fact, the biggest issue at present appears to be the precise terms of the deal, with City preferring a straight cash purchase and Arsenal thought to be keen on an agreement that includes Raheem Sterling moving in the opposite direction.
How to solve a problem like Arsenal
Despite Sanchez’ undisputed quality and the form that he displayed last season, it is fair to say that the Chilean embodies the core issues that have undermined the club in recent times.
This was confirmed during Sunday’s 4-0 thrashing at Anfield, when Arsenal’s players (including Sanchez) looked disinterested throughout and entirely devoid of any desire to redress the balance out on the pitch.
In fact, Liverpool’s players ran a total of four kilometres more than their Arsenal counterparts, while Sanchez himself appeared more concerned with his own frustrations than trying influece the game in a positive manner.
As one of several players who clearly does not buy into Arsene Wenger’s leadership or the club that the direction is heading, his presence is beginning to have a divisive impact that will prevent Arsenal from addressing their core problems and building towards a more successful feature.
So while players like Mesut Ozil and Aaron Ramsey are more obvious targets for the fans’ scorn, it is only a harsh competitive edge and sense of personal pride that make Sanchez appear as though he is committed to the cause.
In truth, he looks increasingly detached from his teammates and the club as a whole, and it is time for the manager to recognise this and cash in on him and similarly disengaged players while he is able too.
Why rebuilding the squad could reverse Arsenal’s fortunes
The defeat against Liverpool was not a new phenomenon, with the Gunners having endured heavy defeats against Manchester United (8-2), Manchester City (6-3) and Chelsea (6-0) during the last five years.
They also lost 4-1 to Liverpool back in the spring of 2014, and while Sanchez was not present for any of this games his presence has done little to improve the relatively low levels of discipline, focus and resilience that continue to course throughout the side.
The prospect of linking up with Pep Guardiola is also a tantilising one for the Chilean, whose head has clearly been turned by a desire to compete for trophies consistently and at the highest level of the game.
With this in mind, the sale of Sanchez could be seen as a watershed in the club’s recent history, and an acknowledgement that the Gunners must refocus and rebuild after years of relative under-achievement.
It would also send a statement to similarly disenfranchised players, by creating a climate in which a lack of effort, desire or total commitment would no longer be tolerated within the club.
As Sir Alex Ferguson proved back in the summer of 1995, the sale of great and talismanic players can actively improve a club while helping a manager to reassert his will and dominance among the remaining squad members.
This could be just the tonic that the Gunners need, as they look to redress years of underachievement and regain their place as genuine contenders for the Premier League title.
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