Somewhere between ‘Live Free or Die’ and ‘Famous Potatoes’ lies the truth – George Carlin
Keep Alexis Best Case:
- Scores 20 goals
- Assists 10 goals
- Re-signs with Arsenal at the end of the season
Pros: All pros, with Arsenal’s acquisition of Lacazette, Alexis would have some of the burden shifted, could have a career season again and possibly lift Arsenal to a title challenge.
Cons: Alexis is another year older, will play in World Cup next summer, and if he re-signs will still want a bumper payday, how much longer can he realistically play? Arsenal could be stuck with an old player on a huge paycheck, who is impossible to shift, and doesn’t perform at anywhere near his peak. Also, Alexis doesn’t solve the problem with Arsenal’s soft midfield.
Keep Alexis Worst Case:
- Locker room distraction
- Selfish on the ball
- Leaves at the end of the season on a free
Pros: are there any? I mean, I guess we all learn what an unprofessional person Alexis is. Oh and we get to feel like we made a “show of strength” in the transfer market when it comes to players demanding a transfer. That makes 30% of Arsenal Twitter and AFTV happy.
Cons: Arsenal are older, weaker, poorer.
Keep Alexis Middle Ground:
- He plays professionally, giving us some great memories
- Arsenal still have problems with defense and finish somewhere between 2nd and 10th
- Leaves at the end of the season on a free OR
- Re-signs for Arsenal and has one more good year
Realistically: If Arsenal keep Alexis, I suspect the truth of the season will be somewhere between the two extremes. Alexis is a professional and is unlikely to throw a season long temper-tantrum. So, I expect him to contribute and because of where he is in his career, and with Arsenal’s purchase of Lacazette, I expect that to be a great contribution. Arsenal could even make a title run with Alexis. The problem is that losing Alexis on a free when we could get £50m for him and replace him with someone younger is a huge loss. It’s also kind of a loss to keep Alexis on contract for the next four years (if he signs a 3 year deal, that’s four years) because there is no way he will perform at peak Alexis until he’s 32. Though… it might be worth it, if Wenger can keep him, re-sign him, and also sign a much-needed central midfielder who can defend, cover, and pass.
Sell Alexis Best Case:
- Sell him to PSG for £50m
- Use that money to buy (Lemar)
- (Lemar) fits in immediately and Arsenal suffer no attacking slump
Pros: Alexis was the focal point of Arsenal’s attack last season but Wenger did buy Lacazette and still has Özil. Unlike in previous seasons when Arsenal sold their only best player (van Persie and to some extent Fabregas, because van Persie hadn’t come fully good yet) Arsenal still have several top quality players, so losing Alexis hurts but not nearly as much as before. And losing him hurts even less if Arsenal can get in another top quality player. Especially one who is less selfish with the ball.
Cons: If Arsenal keep selling off all our best players, can we ever really be considered a top team? Or will we always be a stepping stone to the next level? Also, we should give a player a year to really bed into the team so selling Alexis means writing this year off.
Sell Alexis Worst Case:
- Sell him to a Premier League “rival”
- Try to use that money to buy (Lemar)
- (Lemar) bids all fail and Arsenal buy a 2nd tier replacement who doesn’t perform anywhere near Alexis level or (Lemar) doesn’t perform as well as expected (injury/etc.)
Pros: We could have our first “Arsenal Fan TV Millionaire” as the Arsene Wenger/Arsenal Boardroom/Arsenal Ownership hatred turns into a money spinning endeavor for many disgruntled human beings.
Cons: We could have our first “Arsenal Fan TV Millionaire” as the Arsene Wenger/Arsenal Boardroom/Arsenal Ownership hatred turns into a money spinning endeavor for many disgruntled human beings.
Sell Alexis Middle Ground:
- Well, Alexis is a ball hog and turns the ball over a lot*
- If Arsenal can get a great replacement who is younger they could have a long-term solution to the Alexis problem
- Just don’t sell him to another team in the League
Realistically: Selling Alexis is going to hurt and there is little chance that getting a replacement in will result in a title challenge – though it won’t hurt as much as, say, when Arsenal sold van Persie and that analogy is completely false. However, I remember when Arsenal sold Thierry Henry, who was a similarly overbearing/sulky personality on the field as Alexis and the next season Arsenal made their closest title run since 2004. So, selling Alexis could also lift the cloud – a cloud both of his personality and the uncertainty over his future. The trick is to get in a top quality goal-threat (both passing and scoring) and have the new guy hit the ground running. This is complicated because there are precious few top quality targets and Arsenal would probably need to match Monaco’s valuation of Lemar (£80m) to get him. But in the “sell” scenario I can’t see any choice but to pay the Piper. I also think that Arsenal’s main problems aren’t in attack but defense, especially starting with the midfield pairing.
Between sell and keep there is only one right answer: it doesn’t matter. I don’t subscribe to the best and worst of either choice. Instead, I see the middle ground. Selling Alexis is going to leave a gap, but one which could be filled. Keeping Alexis won’t automatically mean Arsenal are going to win the League, nor that he will spend the whole season in a funk.
Whether Arsenal keep Alexis or sell him, the important thing Wenger needs to do this summer is build a team that can play both ends of the pitch. That requires Wenger to purchase in a position which Alexis doesn’t play (center mid). That means whether Arsene sells Alexis or not, Arsenal will go on being Arsenal and unless Wenger does something wholly unarsenal-like and buys Keita for £150m or whatever they want I can’t see Arsenal making a title run.
*It’s not just that he is dispossessed, has bad touch, and that he’s demanding of the ball, he averaged 11 misplaced short passes per game last season. That’s a ridiculous number. Most strikers don’t get the ball enough to turn it over as much as he did much less to also add in 11 misplaced short passes.