A lot has been said and written over the past few months about the seemingly impending exit of Arsenal talisman Alexis Sanchez.
For a player with just 12 months to go till his contract expires, wouldn’t Arsenal be better off selling him off to Bayern for £50 million and reinvesting it elsewhere on a replacement?
Especially when chances are high that the player might join direct rivals Manchester City or Chelsea for free the very next year?
What’s the point in having someone in your squad who sulks and throws tantrum all too often?
While these questions certainly do merit adequate attention, it should also be observed that it represents a very myopic view of the situation at the club.
Alexis scored 31 goals and made 13 assists in 56 appearances this past season. That’s a direct contribution in 44 goals. He sustained two minor injuries that kept him out for a combined total of 8 days in all competitions. A true anomaly within the Arsenal squad that seems to be plagued by injuries and suspensions throughout the year. The dependency on him to come up with something spectacular to break the deadlock was all too apparent last season, which might also be a consequence of the static 4-2-3-1 system that was employed till the rear end of the season. If Arsenal sell Alexis, then they will need not one but 2 players in order to replace his goal return and assists.
In the current state of the market, a replacement of Alexis’ calibre who can sustain a high level of performance will cost Arsenal at least 80 million pounds. This is not even taking into consideration the settling in period most players seem to take to get on the same wavelength as the rest of the team. Since Arsenal failed to qualify for the Champions League, it won’t be a stretch to say that no one of that caliber will be too keen to join them. Players like Lacazette and Mahrez who are seemingly lined up as replacements are nowhere near Alexis’ quality and won’t produce the same goals and assists output.
Alexis lives, breathes, eats and sleeps football. Even if Arsenal refuse to sell him this summer, his passion and love for the game is so huge that it will not have much of an impact on his performances. He won’t sulk and not play well on purpose just in spite, which is a rare breed of footballers nowadays. He lives to play, not plays to live. He will put his head down, work hard and try to be at his best. Alexis turns 29 this year, and will be approaching 30 by the time his contract runs down next summer. That means his next contract is probably going to be the last bumper contract of his career. He will know that in order to fetch one last big paycheck, he needs to put on a good show for potential suitors. That means a great season, which effectively is a winning proposition for Arsenal.
On the financial front, Arsenal no longer need to sell their players to balance their books. There are talks of a Bayern offer of £50 million for him, which really seems like a steal for him in today’s super inflated market. Qualifying for the Champions League alone gets a team £50 million. Therefore, Arsenal should instead look to keep Alexis and ensure Champions League qualification for next season. Arsenal selling Alexis this summer has the potential to take them back at least 6 years. It would be a huge setback for the club to lose both Champions League football as well as its best players, all at once. No top class player will see Arsenal an attractive destination if the Chilean is sold.
If you want to attract the best players, you have to promise them the opportunity of playing with other exceptionally talented players. That’s called ambition. Sell Alexis, and the next thing you know Ozil will start having his existential Arsenal doubts, too. It’s a losing proposition for Arsenal. They don’t need the money. They need his quality on the pitch, and due to their miserable season last year, Arsenal find themselves in a position where they have pretty much zero realistic replacements capable of providing similar output levels.
Alexis’ name alone strikes fear in opposition defences. One of the reasons Ramsey has performed well in the new 3-4-3 is because oppositions have to be constantly aware of the threat and quality of Ozil and Alexis, and in doing so often miss/don’t track Ramsey’s runs. Having players like Sanchez hold their positions in the wider areas also affords the midfield some extra room and time to operate, which allows for Xhaka to thrive.
Alexis’ winning mentality and attitude has seemed to have a great deal of effect on Oxlade-Chamberlain this season, who has stepped up and seems to be in contention for a possible starting role as RWB. All players seem to be in awe of his work ethic, motivation and dedication to his game. This mentality and desire is the most lacking attribute in the Arsenal squad today, and it would be a shame if Alexis were to leave. At the highest level, sports is all about the psychological aspect and mental fortitude; for a team that seems to have too many confidence players in it, Arsenal would be served a world of good if it can keep a warrior like Alexis in its ranks and inspire others around him, such as Iwobi, to strive for greatness.