Arsenal fans have a number nine they can be excited about in Alexandre Lacazette. But as the squad touched down in Australia and took part in their first pre-season training session down under, it was their number seven attracting questions from the media. Alexis Sanchez is on extended holiday due to his Confederations Cup commitments, and everyone is wondering what his future holds. Will he see out his contract? Will he force a move to Manchester City? Or will he sign an extension with the Gunners?
The Chilean became Arsenal’s Player of the Year for the second time at the end of the season as he proved to be the club’s star asset in a disappointing year. 30 goals in all competitions inspired a surge to a record breaking FA Cup win but after a fifth placed league finish and a humbling Champions League defeat to Bayern Munich, he may feel he’s done his time in North London. He departed Udinese and Barcelona after three years, the length of time he’s been at Arsenal, now with only a year left on his deal will he jump ship?
Since arriving in 2014, Sanchez has given everything for the red and white shirt. Passionate, determined and a born winner, if the rest of the side could play at the same level as him consistently he would have more than two FA Cups to show for his efforts. His attitude has been called into question at times for sulking to much or blaming others too often, yet is this not due to his desire to succeed? Involved in 75 out of Arsenal’s 213 league goals in his time in England, over a third in total, surely Arsene Wenger can’t let another player slip away to Manchester.
However, if Sanchez believes he will benefit under Pep Guardiola in a World Cup year, he could try force through an exit. A former student to the renowned tactician at Barcelona, the prospect of a reunion will be tempting. On the other hand, the versatile frontman doesn’t strike you as someone to disrespect a club and threaten to strike if he doesn’t get his move. The option of him playing out his contract at the Emirates and linking up with his former coach next summer is a possibility, one that would suit most parties, then again with their armoury City won’t be damaged by waiting for their target.
This gives Wenger and co. the opportunity to show Sanchez their ambition, improvement and need for him in their long-term plans. Luis Suarez was convinced to sign an extension at Liverpool back in 2013, after a summer revolving around him trying to force a move to, you guessed, Arsenal. Albeit, he left the following summer, partly due to his antics in Brazil, but his relationship with Liverpool was rebuilt after seemingly wanting out and Sanchez can replicate this with Arsenal fans.
Any Arsenal fan will tell you they want Alexis to stay, even if it’s for a final year till he switches allegiances. The stubbornness of Wenger to keep his man is admirable and a pleasant change after cases with Robin Van Persie and Cesc Fabregas where both embodied ‘player power’. There would be no risk of a ‘rotten apple’ in the Arsenal camp, the South American doesn’t display that trait. He doesn’t guarantee a start in the City team, particularly after their purchase of Bernardo Silva last month nor does he deserve a deal worth £400,000, a wage putting him in the top five earners in the world. Is he of the same calibre as Gareth Bale, Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi? Probably not.
Arsenal can make any realistic fee they’d get for him this summer back by competition earnings. Keeping Alexis increases their chances of a season with a trophy at the end, this makes the option to retain him this season a must for Wenger.
(Featured Image credit: Metro)