Alexis Sanchez: Famous Potatoes

Somewhere between ‘Live Free or Die’ and ‘Famous Potatoes’ lies the truth – George Carlin

Keep Alexis Best Case:

  1. Scores 20 goals
  2. Assists 10 goals
  3. 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:

  1. Locker room distraction
  2. Selfish on the ball
  3. 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:

  1. He plays professionally, giving us some great memories
  2. Arsenal still have problems with defense and finish somewhere between 2nd and 10th
  3. Leaves at the end of the season on a free OR
  4. 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:

  1. Sell him to PSG for £50m
  2. Use that money to buy (Lemar)
  3. (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:

  1. Sell him to a Premier League “rival”
  2. Try to use that money to buy (Lemar)
  3. (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:

  1. Well, Alexis is a ball hog and turns the ball over a lot*
  2. If Arsenal can get a great replacement who is younger they could have a long-term solution to the Alexis problem
  3. 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.

Conclusion:

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.

Qq

*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.

58 Comments on Alexis Sanchez: Famous Potatoes

  1. Spot on. Buy Keita – someone with defensive output and change our game. Even better buy Keita and Koulibaly from Napoli.

    • Keita is not leaving this summer. Red Bull have made that clear enough, they’re trying to consolidate their position and become a regular in the CL. Mor eimportantly, they have little use for the money.

  2. What is important now is that Arsenal don’t rush things.

    I mean, after selling Chesney we only have 12 more players whose futures need to be sorted and perhaps a couple that still need to be bought, but the first game of the season doesn’t start until September 15th, so I’m chill because there is still a lot of time to do business.

    Ospina was excellent today, showing why Chesney was so over the hill that he had to be shown the door to this small time club from Italy, but still selling him for 50 mil unlike that chump Walker who went on a free is terrific business by the club.

    Everything is going just great, we have plenty of midfielders to choose from, and Wilshere and Cazorla will be like new signings. One of them for a new club probably and the other 8 months from now but still.

    To be honest, this is slowly turning into another Cechuphoria, where upon seeing Lacazette and Kolasinac I experienced pleasures, excitement and intense feelings of well-being and happiness, feelings that slowly faded into depression when realising that that was in fact it.

    On the subject, I also don’t care anymore of Alexis stays or goes, but if he does go after all that chest pumping from Wenger, to me that will look like a harakiri for the image of this club.

  3. Whether he stays or goes, we need a center mid. So, let’s get a center mid and stop worrying about Alexis!

    Note: Totally conflating fans energy with what management may actually be doing. Wtf, it’s silly season.

  4. Great piece. I’ve had a hard time understanding the hyperbolic reactions to the possibility of Alexis leaving. He’s not the difference between a PL trophy and another disappointing season. He goes, we’ll be ok. He stays, we’ll be ok. Our real problems lie in defense and defensive midfield, and I guarantee you Wenger won’t fix those with transfers.

  5. We need a CM.I go with Ross barkly.he has d drive n stamina.he can start wt granit or sub ramsy.under d radar footballer

  6. Productivity, productivity, productivity. Sanchez was single-handedly involved in a third of our goals, as scorer or provider. No one comes into the team straight away and replicates that; neither do I want to hear that the team will share his goals and assists. That’s balls, no pun intended. Besides his raw numbers, he supplies important intangibles like fight, which is lacking in a team with more than its share of soft players. And in addition to being our most prolific player, he’s arguably our most creative as well.

    I get the argument about the importance of the money his sale would bring in. Leaving £50 – 60m on the table is a tough decision, and for once, I’m not going to be hard on the Arsenal hierarchy on this one. It’s a tough call, and I empathise. But our finish in the table scrambles the usual equation. If we’d finished in the Top 4, the case for selling him would be a more compelling one. As it is, we need to bounce back right away and, all scenarios considered, we are more likely to do so with Alexis than without. These are unique circumstances. United look ominous, and my money is on them improving on sixth, possibly champions or top 2. That’s 6 or 7 into 4, if you count Everton (especially with an Alexis-less Arsenal).

  7. Slightly OT, I’m really going to be pissed off if as news reports suggest is about to happen, City get Mendy from Monaco. It reduces even further the already remote possibility of our getting Lemar. We’d be out of excuses. That’s what…? Five out? Two to City. The virtues of doing your business early. We chased Lacazette last summer, but our bid was rejected and we did not complete. Kolasinac is on a free.

    • Oh not this again. We should buy everyone on the 1st of July! I mean why did City wait 3 more weeks before getting this deal done? Money is no object to them after all.

      By the way, I don’t understand why Monaco are not being branded a selling club now that they’ve sold five of their title winning team? Why this insistence that they won’t sell when that’s exactly what they’ve been doing?

      I still think our pursuit of Lemar depends a lot on Alexis’ future and as well that any further incoming business depends on getting the outs sorted (and assessing the youngsters on tour). That defines needs and budgets both, and keeps our wage bill to a manageable/desirable level (We were already at 55% of turnover at last count)

      • Like I give a hoot about what Monaco is branded. That’s their supporters’ problem.

        Look I respect your opinion on what you think our pursuit of Lemar depends on, even though neither you (nor I) know anything behind the scenes for certain. Bit of guesswork there on your part. However each sale out of Monaco makes it far less likely, and if the Sanchez departure DOES clear the way and the Lemar door is shut, it leaves us in a bit of hole, doesn’t it? That leads to purchasing decisions like Lucas — a good player, but not the one we wanted last summer.

        As I’ve argued with you for 3 years now, the deeper into a window you go (especially if the pre-season starts), the less leverage you have, and the less likely you are to get your preferred targets — unless they are “shakeout” players like James Rodriguez, or Ozil 4 years ago. If they are “prise” players, you have to identify early and get them early.

        I’d be really bummed if City pulls off two Monaco transfers and we don’t, even if there are backstory issues we can’t know about.

        • Well as you say, there is a difference in how transfers happen, which determines who has the leverage.

          My argument is not that it’s better to leave it late. Simply that it isn’t always possible to get all your business done early. Which is funny because the real fear is that we have done precisely that. 🙂

          Budgets for the rest of the window will also depend on selling Gibbs, Jenkinson, Debuchy, Perez, Wilshere etc. If we can raise 50m and clear 500k/w space, don’t you think that might affect who we can buy? Maybe even have a greater chance at a preferred target or keeping Alexis, Ozil and the Ox.

          • That’s a fair enough argument, Shard. I think that there’s more that we agree on than don’t. “Prise” players are fiendishly hard to get if you don’t go in early and aggressively, and if, like Monaco, the club has already had plenty of prior sales. As it is, I think our chances of landing Lemar are near-dead, irrespective of whether we clear our backlog. The sale of Mendy would kill them for good.

            And speaking of budgets, we’ve only spent £53m on Lacazette, so it’s unlikely that we need to clear a backlog to raise funds for a purchase. Unless he’s also buying that DM that we all agree that we need.

          • Oh I certainly hope that’s the plan. And yes, I don’t think we’re miles apart in how we view this.

            But I think budgets more in terms of wages. As I said we were at 55% of turnover. Since then we’ve had players come back from loan and have added I’m guessing around 350k in wages from our two summer signings. We’re probably still hoping to negotiate pay rises for Ozil and Ox (and maybe Alexis??) while still looking to buy another player. So we’d need to budget for anywhere from a further 250-700k increase, depending on what happens. (Not counting departures)

            Of course our turnover isn’t static, our needs may change (injury to someone/ youngster showing himself to be ready for first team), and our preferred targets may not have been obtainable (for monetary or other reasons) Whatever may be the case, I might want to wait for a)being clear about my budgets and/or b)what happens in the market, before I go back in and commit to spending that much more.

          • “Budgets for the rest of the window will also depend on selling Gibbs, Jenkinson, Debuchy, Perez, Wilshere etc.”

            I agree, and therein lies (a big part of) the problem. If we were more ruthless, more willing to take financial hits, and (e.g. in the case of Perez) more determined to get our preferred targets in windows past so we didn’t end up buying players we didn’t really want, then we wouldn’t be stuck with the classic problem of the “deadwood”. But we are, and I fear it’s going to hold us back from moving on any more top quality players until the very end of the window, at which point we’ll struggle mightily to get in anyone unless they’re less than top quality (thus renewing the cycle). Then Wenger will come out with one of his classic quotes about how he’s satisfied with this great squad he has and how difficult it is to find players that actually improve us and all that malarkey. Boy, I never used to be this cynical about football and Arsenal…

  8. I’m almost sure we intend to keep him, and that we hold out hope that he may sign a new contract as the season goes on. (In terms of budgeting, he would be LANS and I suppose that could mean we’d be able to give him a larger signing on bonus as well to sweeten the deal.)

    That could change if someone comes in with a ridiculous bid. Maybe 70m and the option of buying Lemar/someone else is still open. But I do believe we’re preparing ourselves to keep him. This is the same club (mostly) that rejected Chelsea’s 50m bid for Henry. We had to change that attitude for a while but the fact remains that ever since we signed our new sponsorship deals, we have kept all the players we wanted to.

    Whether this is the right decision or the wrong one, I don’t know. I do know that the optics are important too because one of our biggest challenges comes from the lack of belief within the fanbase.

    • I doubt whether the club realistically hold out such hope. If Sanchez starts the season without signing a new contract with us, he almost certainly isn’t going to sign one during it. Objectively, he’d be mad to give up free agency. He can go wherever he likes at a ridiculous salary. The only circumstances under which he’d re-sign during next season is if he has a bad leg break in, say, November, and the club re-states an offer. I agree, it looks like the decision has been made to keep him. But it’s unlikely that anyone REALLY believes he’s re-sign during the next season.

      • Yeah I agree. That’s why I said hope rather than expectation. It’s a long shot. But things can change. It depends on whether he likes it here or whether he’s hell bent on leaving. People make some strange decisions sometimes, or at least what seems strange from the outside. (See Kyrie Irving)

  9. Most have not reckoned with the fact that we can re-sign Sanchez on the free. We simply engage in a wage competition with other clubs for free Sanchez. And we’d have one advantage over others:no bedding-in time for us which could be a critical factor as by Aug next season Sanchez would be 4 months shy of 30 yrs.

    This in no way means that I care whether he stays or not. In our 3 yrs with Sanchez we finished 3rd, 2nd and 5th. Not any better than our long years without him. Further more Chi won the championship without him. Tot, City, Liv, 2nd, 3rd, 4th respectively without him. Real won the CL without him and Juv finished runners up without him. How then should he be regarded as indispensable to our ambition. What does bother me is the paucity of attention to improve our defending ahead of our flat back line. We need a versatile CM specialized in the DM role.

    • He should be regarded as indispensable to our ambitions because without his goals and assists (especially in the Champions League where his goal+assist contribution was even higher than in league play), we would have finished 3-4 positions lower in the table than we did.

      The logic behind this statement that our 3rd, 2nd, and 5th place finishes indicate that Sanchez *as an individual* is not a good or important player is mind-boggling. We find so many different ways to assess our performances that give coaching/management a pass and it really needs to end.

      Alexis did not arrive at Arsenal as a striker. He was an attacking mid versatile enough to play as a forward. This was evident at Barcelona as well, and after experimenting with him for 3 years, Pep, The Greatest Manager in the World threw 60million+ at the problem, and bought an actual specialist in Suarez. And now we’ve spent 3 years experimenting with him, only to buy an actual specialist. Why did it take Arsenal so long to work out that Sanchez, Walcott & Giroud wasn’t going to win a title? He’s outdone them all statistically so is that Sanchez’ fault?

      Every other team that won things won them because their best 10-15 players are better drilled, better coached and better managed than Arsenal. Those teams press together, attack together, defend together. We don’t. That’s not down to Alexis, it’s down to our manager.

      By the way, I fully agree with you that we should own our destiny, sell him and reinvest in the squad, but I suspect we’ve done so much damage to our rep over the years that we have been and will continue to miss out on key targets.

  10. I’d say the worst case scenario if he stays would be he does his ACL in the first match of the season, then leaves on a free. Arsenal get nothing from him on the pitch and nothing for him off it.

  11. PRO:
    If we keep him as I think we will, I am unconcerned about his effort and conscientiousness on the pitch. When all is said and done, the man wants to play. He is the footballing epitome of the Monty Python Black Knight skit, “It’s only a flesh wound!”

    CON:
    Many players are careful in a World Cup year as most want to play for Queen and Country. But Chile has no substitute for Alexis and he could in theory “shoot someone one 5th Avenue and still get elected (selected) to the national team.

    That being said, so far there is no evidence that despite having thrown a strop or two last year, that he is in spitting territory of the biggest sleaze bag to have been elected POTUS.

  12. Stopped by my local to have a pint with a mate and they had the pre-season Leicester v Liverpool match on the telly.

    Very impressed with Leicester’s black and gold kit. One of the nicest strips I’ve seen in a while. An effortlessly chic ensemble that’s equal parts masculine and cool.

    OK, I totally ripped that off from one of my niece’s fashion mags (visiting her today after ages) but still, very cool kit.

  13. After read this article, im ready to live the life without alexis.
    Nice analysis, Tim!

  14. Sell Alexis best case would be swap deal of some kind with PSG for Verratti
    Though he has just changed his agent to snake raiola, so not even a mathematical chance of this happening

    • Yes, Verratti not wanting to come to us has everything to do with him switching to Raiola and nothing to do with one of the most in-demand midfielders in Europe not wanting to play for a team in the Europa League that hasn’t won the league since 2004, hasn’t mounted a decent title challenge in nearly a decade and has been routinely thumped in the first / second knockout round of the CL for years and years now.

  15. As much as Gazidis might crow about our sound financial position and how they’ve factored in the possibility of NOT qualifying for the Champions League into the budgeting, the truth is we can only afford to do this ONCE, and not two seasons in a row.

    With CL qualification worth £40-50m, there is no real benefit to selling Sanchez, because you might get £40-50m for him, but struggle to qualify for the CL in the hyper-competitive environment that is the Premier League, particularly with Everton having stepped up so gallantly in the transfer market.

    Additionally, the club is conscious of the example of Man United, who in order to attract top players while not being in the CL have being paying massive premiums on wages, something that Arsenal just can’t afford to do. And a lack of qualifying for the CL has proven to be a bit of a vicious cycle, if it happens once, it’s likely to happen again, happen again, happen again, until you finally spend like £400m on players and a fancy manager who gets you back there by the skin of your teeth via the UEFA cup final. Something that Arsenal just can’t afford to do.

    Premier League finances for everyone means that Arsene doesn’t really have us punching above our weight anymore, so I think a couple of years of not being in the CL would be pretty disastrous – we’ve become reliant on players from lesser European clubs making the step up to us (en route to elsewhere perhaps), and giving them the chance to develop and play regularly in the CL. If we don’t have that, then we don’t have anything, apart from the “young French players want to work with AW” – and even that isn’t going to last much longer.

    So as bizarre as it sounds, from a purely business point of view, it’s better NOT to sell Alexis for £50m. Particularly with the Puma sponsorship deal up for renewal at the end of next season, they can’t afford to be negotiating as a Europa League team (or worse).

    Quite simply, if we’d finished 4th I’m pretty sure that Alexis would’ve been sold by the end of May, and that we would’ve had our pick of Ligue 1 and Bundesliga starlets as replacements. However we now have to pin our hopes on him giving 100% for us in a season preceding a World Cup. Sticky situation.

  16. We can’t have another season of temper tantrum Alexis. He was a huge reason why the team fell apart last season. Yes, Wenger’s annual lack of rotation and Santi’s injury were more determinant, but Alexis probably finished off the team. The Bournemouth game, where Alexis was extremely poor and lost several key balls in the first half leading to a 3-0 deficit sticks in my mind. He was not pushing his team until he got the rebound for our first goal. Before that he was one of our worst players on the field.. He then had the audacity to throw his gloves on the floor at the end of the game because we didn’t boot the ball forward. Instead of being a game to push us to a new level we fell apart. Yes, he is a player that can win a game himself but he is also able to cost us points. That is harder to do, especially as a forward/striker. It also hits home when I watch Eduardo Vargas who also played in the confederations cup already playing for Tigres MX and giving it his all. Vargas is arguably Chile’s third best player and played deep into the summer with Tigres as they went to the finals. I am not comparing the leagues but we talk about how much Sanchez loves to play, but when you look at Vargas playing already or someone like Messi who never misses a game It seems like Sanchez would be back if he really wanted. I would not be upset if he forced his way off the team. I’m just hoping we can get that midfielder we’ve been missing these last two seasons.

    • So what you’re saying is Wenger couldn’t rotate much because our squad wasn’t very strong, and we had no cover for Santi, and even when Santi was playing our midfield leaked like a sieve, and both Xhaka and Mustafi took ages to get used to the league, our new signing Lucas fell off a cliff, we had no captain and no leader on the pitch but Alexis was the huge reason we fell apart.

      The reality is we were a collective mess, and Arsenal fans should have stopped singling out individuals in 2008.

  17. Reports are saying that arsenal are being offered rafinha for 27m. … just how good is he compared to the likes of veratti?

  18. I always compared alexis temperament and situation more to marc overmars than to cesc and van persie ( i appreciate your wider viewpoint, encompassing our overall position in the grand scheme of things.) Its just that while he performed and left memorable moments. His heart wasn’t really in it and he left for barca (having typed this down I realise i just contradicted myself and in fact i just agree with you entirely and just want to add overmars to the list). Anyways ill cry over alexis leaving when hes won a league medal for arsenal. At least Arsene didn’t make him captain first lol. Although i think 80 mill would be more reasonable to ask for club captain AND best player.

  19. Two players – 150m-ish total – solves a bunch of problems. Sell Alexis for 50m at least and thats 100m, so a total summer outlay of 150. Not out of this world.

    Lemar – may be the solution, may not be. The only name apart from Mahrez being bandied about (the latter may be worth a punt for 30ish).
    Keita – all the talk is about Pool, but we know Wenger tried to buy him last year, so (a) he’s a fan, and (b) knows there is a problem in midfield. If there really is interest, I suspect we’re laying low to avoid sparking a bidding war with Pool. Perhaps if a bid is accepted, we jump in and hijack. But it’s all conjecture, and no guarantee he’d pick us over Klopp anyway.

    • Would love for you to be right about Keita, but unfortunately I see no evidence (though sometimes that’s exactly how Arsene wants it, obviously, e.g. with Ozil).

      • I’ve seen nothing to suggest we’re after him this summer either, unfortunately. I just can’t think why not. If we’re losing Jack and know Santi is out indefinitely, you’re looking at Xhaka, Coq, Ramsey, Elneny for 2 positions. Apart from Xhaka, every one of the others is either underwhelming (Coq and Elneny), or not a player you can rely on to play 50 games a season (Ramsey). Anyway, is Ramsey the answer? If so, what’s the question?

  20. If probably sell him to PSG if they offered more than 50 million. At least he’d be gone to another league.The idea of him going to City/United/Chelsea for nothing next year makes me sick.

  21. Well, at least we left China without having to apologise to the whole country.

    Stay classy Arsenal.

  22. Great article. Completely agree with pretty much every word.

    The only thing I would add (and I haven’t yet read the other comments so apologies if someone has already said this) is that what might tip the balance on sell vs. buy is if one of the options makes it more likely that we still strengthen in TWO, rather than one, areas of the pitch. Pretty much everyone on here (me included) thinks we need to improve in midfield. Wenger seems to only have eyes on Lemar, who would (presumably) play higher up the pitch. I’m not at all opposed to signing Lemar, with or without Alexis. But the question for me is:

    Does selling Alexis make it more or less likely that we will strengthen midfield this summer WITHOUT significantly weakening our attack?

    If PSG (or even City) are willing to throw stupid money at Alexis, it might make Wenger more bullish about bringing in Lemar as a replacement AND still getting a midfielder in too (this is why I liked the (totally unrealistic) idea of player swapping with PSG: we could get one of their players, e.g. Draxler or Rabiot, and STILL have the cash to go in for another player elsewhere). On the other hand, you might think the opposite is obviously true: if we keep Alexis, then that will encourage Wenger to give up on chasing after another attacker (especially if Monaco hold firm on Lemar), and, with plenty of time left in the window, he’ll be able to turn his attentions to midfield instead, whereas if we have to concentrate on replacing Alexis, we’ll have no time/energy/money left to buy in midfield (it shouldn’t have to work this way, but we know at Arsenal it often does work this way).

    Of course worst case scenario is losing Alexis and failing to bring in any other top quality additions (assuming he’s not going to have a terribly destabilizing effect if he stays, which also would be terrible). But only slightly less bad (given how frustrating it is watching the same story play out season after season) is keeping Alexis and that fooling Wenger into thinking that our two additions so far are sufficient to change a team that finished 5th last year into genuine title contenders in the most competitive league in the world (maybe the most competitive football league in history?). Again and again, we have had an almost-good-enough squad only for Wenger to fail to bring in the final puzzle pieces, and I fear that realistic best case scenario this summer is that that same thing happens.

  23. Alexis will suit up for us on opening day because those teams with the money will not pay 50 mil for a 28 yo who wants a a big salary when they can get him for free at 29 and just pay the salary. We’ve seen Bayern Munich rule themselves out and that leaves PSG. PSG has DiMaria, Draxler in that position and are now trying to figure out how to pay the freight on a Neymar deal. If PSG can’t get the finances correct, then they may come in for Alexis but not right now.

  24. Thanks for the balanced analysis of the Sanchez Saga Tim. I enjoyed reading the various sides to the arguement and the sound conclusion.

  25. for me, it only makes sense to keep alexis if you can help him play his best football; it’s not good enough just having him in the side. the way to get alexis playing his best football is he’s got to enjoy his football, meaning he’s got to enjoy who he’s playing with. not only will you get the best of him but he may lead the team to a proper title challenge as well as he may be tempted into signing an extension. however, if he’s not going to enjoy his football, arsenal should sell him.

    we’ve seen this movie before with van persie. arsenal sell both samir and cesc in the same window with no replacements and van persie is left with gervinho replacing nasri and ramsey replacing cesc, two categorical downgrades. like alexis, van persie was in his prime and needed to be in a team he believed he could win with. despite scoring a boatload of goals, rvp knew he couldn’t win with gervinho and ramsey and sought clarification of the club’s direction. whatever the club said to him, rvp wasn’t convinced he could win a championship with arsenal and decided not to extend his contract.

    the key is your stars have to enjoy their football and believe they can win if they’re going to stick around. the strategic formation change was a step in the right direction. the obvious move for the summer was a center forward upgrade and for me, that meant morata. will lukaku score more goals this season? absolutely. however, arsenal are more likely to challenge if alexis is playing with a center forward who’s fun to play with; someone who knows how to play good soccer and can make him look good (make arsenal look sexy). having that player also takes lessens the burden of having to win every game on your shoulders.

    sorry to beat a dead horse but lacazette is not going to be fun for alexis to play with. even though it’s only been two halves of soccer against fc bayern and chelsea, lacazette has shown that he can’t keep the ball high up the pitch against quality defenders. he found it difficult to get open and when he did get open, he lost every single ball he received high against chelsea. if you can’t keep the ball in a high position, you can’t play center forward. did he make a cute little run behind the bayern defense where ozil found him? yes, but that only happened once in two halves of soccer; it’s simply too easy for defenders to defeat that run against a lone center forward, especially the way ozil drifts.

  26. One scenario is missing.

    September 1st comes and goes, and we still have Alexis. There are some leaks that he’s not happy, but for the most part his on-field performances are standard Alexis and productive. It’s pretty clear though that he’s not going to sign a new deal with us.

    Christmas comes and we are in, say, 5th place… 11 points off the leader and 4 points back of 4th place. The teams in front of us are all looking pretty strong and the teams right behind us are putting us under pressure as well. We’re still in all the Cups. We’ve had a bit of an injury crises and leaving us short in midfield (surprise). Our form has been spotty. Sanchez is rumoured to be negotiating pre-contract deals with a number of clubs. The World Cup is coming up and there’s speculation about how much Sanchez will want to extend himself the back-half of a season when a) Chile are a dark horse team for the Cup and b) he’s on the verge of a big pay day. Plus we know Wenger’s history dealing with players towards the back end of seasons where he doesn’t trust/want that player anymore.

    PSG come in with a 25 million offer for Sanchez to take him in January. Do we sell at that point? The league is lost. We’re banking on getting 4th or winning the Europa Cup to get back into the Champions League.

    I say sell. If we’re not firing on all cylinders throughout the fall, we recoup what we can.

  27. I said earlier that I’d sell him if an overseas team offered over 50 million but probably just as important as whether holding on to him or selling him is the right call making the call to hold on to him despite the financial implications and his desire to leave is the kind of statement we don’t see or expect from Arsenal so as a show of strength I support it.

  28. That will be a right bummer (upper case, bold, italics, underlined and in red font). Wenger (and we the fans by extension) will look like plonkers for not having sold him for 50 million 6 months earlier. Basically, unless Wenger gives it his all in this transfer window namely release the purse strings and then get rid of the deadwood to create space for Keita AND Lemar or similar, we may as well sell Sanchez now to the highest bidder whoever that is. Now is no time to sit on the fence.

    • People keep writing about Keita, but I have heard of ZERO interest from us.

      Let’s be honest – we’re done in the transfer market. Unless Real want to offload some more to make another bid for Mbappe, we’re not looking for anything more.

      And yes, Monaco are selling EVERYBODY. I could see selling Silva and one other, but now they’ve sold the core away. Mbappe and Lemar are not staying. If we’re keen on Lemar we had better move in for the kill right now.

      • Keith will not be sold. Red Bull doesn’t need the money and they’re trying to consolidate their position, so they’re serious about it. It’seems pretty funny to see Liverpool fans being incredulous about it. However Keith has a release clause which becomes active next summer, he can go for 50m then.

  29. You think we can get Lemar? I thought that particular door was closed today with the news of Mendy to Man city.

    Though I can’t see Sanchez staying. That would be very unlike our modus operandi in these matters.

  30. With the clear consensus that it’s at CM that we most need to strengthen I would love another proper Tim style analysis of what and who is needed in central midfield with specific reference to the somewhat realistic targets out there. Please. Thank you for your consideration.

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