Arsenal playing hardball with Alexis

In his first press conference of the year Wenger was taken off guard by a reporter asking if he would like to keep Alexis Sanchez. Responding to this most unusual of questions Wenger stated “We’ll see. The players have contracts and we expect them to respect their contracts, and that’s what we want.” Wenger also reminded the gathered press (and us fans) that just because Alexis is in the final season of his contract he’s not really in the final season of his contract because he could still sign an extension with Arsenal any time between now and the end of the season.

Rumors are flying that Arsenal are holding out for £80m to transfer Alexis to another Premier League team and the press is also reporting that Alexis has asked for £400k a week from Arsenal to sign an extension (reported through Arsenal mouthpiece John Cross). These reports have the club’s fingerprints on them and show that Arsenal are playing hardball with Alexis over his extension.

There is no doubt that Alexis wants more money. Bayern would have taken him in a minute and were actually confident that they could get him but then he told them his salary demands and the German side, not wanting to break their salary structure, said “no thanks.” After that, Alexis has been shopping himself around to clubs which could afford him, in other words, Chelsea and Man City.

While Alexis’ Arsenal salary demands seem crazy it’s important to note that Arsenal are no longer in the Champions League and that Arsenal players earn less than Man City and Chelsea players do for their endorsement deals. Most fans only see the “salary” numbers for players and fail to notice, because it’s never reported, that players earn just as much, if not more, in endorsements than in salary. Robin van Persie bragged about taking a “pay cut” to go to United but in reality, while his weekly wage went down a small amount, his endorsement deals made him one of the richest footballers in the world.

When I saw Alexis’ salary demands I thought two things: one, the club leaked this to make him look greedy; and two, if this is a real demand, it doesn’t surprise me as it’s saying “I want compensation for the lost money from Arsenal’s lower profile and smaller endorsement deals.”

You probably think this is greedy. It is. Greed abounds in football and works both for and against Arsenal. I know that fans like to think their club is attractive because of its history, location, and manager but Arsenal also attract players to the team because we pay a lot more than other clubs in Europe. It’s a bit hypocritical for Arsenal supporters to complain about greed in football when their club has the 7th highest wage bill… in Europe. No doubt Arsenal are a destination because of London, because of Herbert Chapman, but also because we pay massive salaries and players get better endorsements here than they do in France or Germany.

As for Alexis staying at Arsenal, at this point I’m a lot less confident that he’s going to leave this summer. Unless he throws a public strop, Arsenal seem to have boxed him in with their public pronouncements about how much it would take to buy him and his “outrageous” salary. It is a clever bit of maneuvering by Arsenal’s board and sets the stage for Alexis to possibly sign an extension with the club once he sees how and whether the Arsenal improve with Arsene’s £100m in summer signings.

And if Arsenal do re-sign him, what if they give him a £10m singing bonus? Wouldn’t that be caving in to greed?

Well, yes it would. It’s also just the sordid reality of football in 2017.



  1. Personally I think you’re being sucked by the constant media speculation and rumour.

    Do you have any evidence that ‘Alexis has been shopping himself around to clubs which could afford him’?

    1. When it comes to media reports I only follow one newspaper, the Guardian. While they occasionally print trash (like the Mourinho/Laca/Luka/Wenger article) they are the most reliable independent newspaper in the world. They are rigorous about sourcing their articles and do not publish trash transfer rumors like all the other papers do. Here they were clearly told by City that City was confident of signing Alexis:

    2. And one more thing, I do not read the rumor stories. I don’t read any sports pages except the Guardian and the BEEB. I am not “sucked in” by the rumors because I literally do not know them.

      You would know this if you followed me at all.

      1. Ha ok, but firstly I don’t ‘follow you at all’, so I assume that you use the internet like the rest of us and cannot avoid the baseless rumour stories.

        And more to the point I hardly think an article in the Guardian justifies an accusation that Sanchez is shopping himself around.

        1. I choose my sources. I don’t read the Mail, the Telegraph, blogs, Sun, Star, etc. etc. and I don’t follow people on social media who traffic in transfer rumors.

  2. Bayern just signed James for a two-year loan deal from Real. That puts an end to any Bayern interest in Sanchez. Douglas Costa is going to Juventus, which ends any potential Juventus interest in Sanchez.

    That leaves City.

    Me? I would take 50 million from City for a guy in the last year of his deal. This idea that City are “rivals” to us is hilarious and that we shouldn’t sell to rivals. I agree – we shouldn’t sell to our “rivals” – Spurs, Liverpool and Everton, our rivals for the 4th and 5th spots. We are not even close to Chelsea, City or United. City could put out a second team of attackers now that would still outscore our first team.

    1. This is exactly the kind of defeatist mentality that we need to shed. In what world is City not our rivals?? They finished a point above us last season and below us the year before. So we haven’t won the league because of our managerial and financial issues. So what? These things are cyclical in football. We are in a position now where we can at least compete in the transfer market – maybe not for every player but definitely for the majority fo them. City still has the advantage financially but that hardly means we aren’t their rivals anymore. Christ. A decade ago no one outside of England had even heard of that team. Get a grip man.

      1. I’m normally an optimistic, glass half-full type of guy. Except when it comes to Arsenal. This club, and in particular this manager, has not been able to exceed expectations in a very very long time. Sorry, but my fandom doesn’t extend to blind optimism any longer.

        1. Taking a hard stance on Alexis and believing that holding on to him gives us the best chance for the title next year (however slim) is not blind optimism, it’s pragmatic.

          Do I really think we can win the title next year? No. But we still have to operate under the assumption that we have a chance to win. Otherwise we might as well just give up, form a circle, hold hands and sing kumbaya.

          Normally an optimist, I’m also quite pessimistic when it comes to most Arsenal related matters but hey if I see them taking, what I think, is the right course of action (others may disagree), then I can get behind that.

        2. If you expect to exceed expectations, then you’re not really being honest about your expectations.

          1. When I say exceed expectations, I think based on the size of our club the baseline expectation for a non-CL season would be top 4, FA Cup semi-final and Europa League final.

            However, based on what I see coming in and going out, what other clubs are doing and my degraded opinion of Arsene Wenger’s ability to manage in the modern era, I personally expect us to finish 5th and crash out in the second knock-out round in the Europa League.

            I have extreme doubts about the team’s ability to surprise me the other way and win the league and the Europa. That would be exceeding expectations.

            We’re not going to improve with Arsene Wenger as our manager. I don’t care if you buy Mbappe, Lacazette, and Lemar and resign Ox, Ozil and Sanchez. Our problems are fundamentally managerial.

      1. Yes, the club needs empty-headed glassy-eyed eternal optimists. Keep pumping money into Stan’s coffers buddy.

    2. I like you loads, Jack, but you’re so wrong on this.

      We’re actually very close to City… not just in points, but squad ability. Let’s compare last season’s squads, because things are still in flux. We’re much stronger than they are in defensive depth, including goalkeepers. Alexis is better than their standout attacker Aguero, and most of our other forwards are better than the terribly overrated Iheanacho. Gabriel Jesus is going to be a big, big player in time, but he’s just arrived and is not there yet. I’d take Ozil over Silva, Komany was a great player but is past it because of injuries, and none of Clichy, Sagna, Stones, Kolarov, Mangala or Otamendi displaces anyone at Arsenal for me, not even Gabriel. Zabaleta, yes.

      De Bruyne, Sane and Sterling on his day are wonderful players. But, the more you examine it, the clearer it is that Arsenal have a deeper and more talented squad. Swap managers and we’d have swapped places in the table

      I know there have been some departures and additions, and more are imminent this window (I’m counting neither Kolasinac or Lacazette), but as I said, there’s no point comparing unsettled squads now. I’m no head in the sand Arsenal romantic as you know. But I’d maintain that pound for pound, the notion that City are miles ahead of us laughable.

      1. Exactly. City being miles ahead of Arsenal is anything but, laughable. We would have and should have finished above them but, for our miserable 3 month period ever since, that loss to Watford last season.

        They have released 3 under performing full backs, why is that? City were lucky to have a fairly healthy squad and secure a top 4 finish, other than that they were not that good. They lost to us in the FA cup semi final in what was a difficult period for arsenal and not even, a complete performance on the day. So, in no way is their squad miles ahead. Its not optimism, these are the facts.

        1. We had a better squad than every other team in the league this past season. I’ve said that here many times. And we finished 5th.

          C’mon… City lets players go and you think there’s no plans to replace them with upgrades? They’ve upgraded their keeper, they’ve added Bernardo Silva and they aren’t done yet.

          And they have a manager who is miles better than our own.

          “but, for our miserable 3 month period ever since, that loss to Watford last season”

          I really wonder when people say “were it not for our difficult period”, “were it not for November”, “were it not for that loss to Liverpool”. Are those not part of the season? You can’t selectively excise bad spells and say “see, we were pretty good”.

          In Pep Confidential Guardiola claims that the title is lost in the first 8 games and won in the final 8. So true. Our seasons vacillate between the two extremes; we’re either off the pace right from the get go or we don’t have the steel to see it out at the end. Both are managerial problems; poor pre-season preparations and poor motivation and a lack of pragmatism.

  3. I’m not sure if you were being sarcastic about the first question…but anyway, I thought AW was making a joke about the Alexis question being unexpected.

    He wants to go to Man City under Pep Guardiola and that is why he has priced himself out of the reach of other clubs. He wants CL football or a shedload more money to stay at a club that doesn’t have CL football.

    Alexis and Man City have done their share of leaks about contracts being agreed, AS wanting to leave, etc, so no reason why the club shouldn’t do the same. On a side note, I think the club have upped their PR game. To my mind, they are not behaving all that differently with regard to making transfers – but they are giving out more briefings. This pleases some fans who are unable to believe anything is happening which they do not know about.

  4. I love Alexis, and I’ll be happy to see him in our colours all next season, but I am beginning to wonder… I know he’s a proper thoroughbred, but still, with all his international playing — World Cup, Confed Cup, Copa America — he’s got to be permanently at or near the “red zone”. At what point does he just break apart?

    1. Right after he plays 55 games for us next season and has an extended run in the world cup with Chile.

  5. Nothing wrong with a signing bonus. Happens all the time in American sports.

  6. If the club is taking a hard stance on Alexis and saying that he won’t move for anything less than £80MM, I’m all for it. Why should we make it easy for City to win the league next year? I think if we spend wisely, we will have as good a chance as the 5 other top 6 teams. It really just comes down to the quality and the experience of players in our team. Alexis has both. We may be able to replace his quality but not his experience. No way in hell should we make it easy for City to take him. Like I said the other day, make him play all 55 games for us next season, then let him retire at City if he wants to.

    Thing is, I don’t blame Sanchez for wanting to make the move nor do I blame him for wanting 400K/wk. He wants success. He wants what’s best for him and his family financially. I get that. However, it would be utterly stupid on our part to bow down to pressure and sell him to City. If we have ANY chance of winning the league next season, it would be with Sanchez on the team. Wenger knows this. It’s more than just how weak we look for selling to a rival. This would have a very real consequence to ours and City’s title chances.

    One year is a long time in football. Anything can happen. I was pissed off at the club for selling RVP (though he left us with little choice you guys), so I can’t pretend I’m not happy to see them take a much tougher stance this time. The window is still open though so we’ll see.

  7. Today is July 11. Transfer deadline is six weeks away. Lots of time for agent statements, leaks, subterfuge, player (soft) strikes. Sure they say they aren’t selling Sanchez today… let’s see what they say August 30th.

    1. Agreed. We could be singing a different tune in 6 weeks, and I’ll be back on here criticizing the club for failing to stick to their guns once again.

  8. He’s one of the best players in the Premier League and is asking for a salary roughly equivalent to what the Sixers are paying JJ Reddick this year. Pay the man.

  9. The reason fans call a player greedy in this whole playground of greed is because their first loyalty (presumably) is to the club. That’s ok.

    Personally, I have no problem with Alexis demanding an exorbitant salary, though I don’t think a reduced profile has anything to do with it. I bet his visibility and newsworthiness has gone up in the world since he moved to us from Barcelona.

    I also have no problem if Arsenal decide not to pay this salary. In the meantime, if we hold on to the last year of his contract, he is forgoing around 8m pounds over the year that is apparently on offer from us, and relying on a team offering him more when he is a year older and has another full year and summer of mileage on the tank. Good luck to him and we can go about replacing him a little earlier than ideal.

    My feeling is he will stay and sign a new contract, with maybe a buyout clause and some major performance bonuses. Contrary to conventional wisdom, I think he wants to stay, but is exploring all his options and gauging the market for his services. I suppose he’s something like a restricted free agent and we could either match his offer sheet or decide to let him go for nothing (albeit next year)

    Or we could trade him, but I’m not sure I’d want to sell him, especially to City. But at 80m, if indeed that is our asking price, it starts to get so tempting so as to be near impossible to refuse.

  10. I’m a bit Gordon Gekko and a capitalist when it comes to negotiated value. Players demands aren’t greed. A player has every right to explore his optimal market value. If he’s being unrealistic, he’ll soon know. It’s no different from Arsenal demanding 80m for Sanchez — they are exploring his optimal market value, to their benefit. We lost a marvellous young player, Ashley Cole to predatory club and a manager who broke the law, over a 5k a week difference of opinion on pay. How quaint that seems now.

    I just want the bubble to burst, because transfer prices have become stupid. For that to happen, we need some big clubs to go bust. Yes, I’d like to see that happen for the good of football. A Lehman Bros moment is what is needed. FIFA needs to get truly serious about financial doping and legislate sugardaddies out of existence. We are a bigger and more financially successful club than City, yet we can’t match them on wages or transfer fees.

    1. I think it was a BBC survey, but the upshot is 1/3 of football fans in uk stream illegally.

      When it’s a question of paying bills or supporting millionaire players and billionaire owners, I fail to see how that number won’t grow. The crash will come.

  11. I’m dating myself but I knew The Guardian was class when it was The Manchester Guardian as a print only broadsheet. Back then it was a news standard along with NYT, the Times of India, The South China Morning Post, the Times of London, the Cleveland Plain Dealer and the St Louis Post-Dispatch. Great papers with solid reporting, great writing to go with your morning coffee.

  12. Great news that Mertesacker is retiring as a player with us. So proud that a stand up guy like that would make that kind of choice and then go on in either a management or coaching role. Future Arsenal manager anyone? We could so worse. Cheers BFG!

  13. On a side note, during the press conference Wenger was asked if he would entertain coaching in the A-league after his time in Arsenal is up. His reply was that what he wants to do is hold up the values of the game and whether that’s on or off the pitch, he doesn’t know. I found the answer quite interesting. It kind of sounded like he might be up for working for one of football’s governing bodies. I think he would make a great high ranking official for either FIFA or UEFA.

  14. Love or hate Wenger, he is beyond reproach as a possible candidate for a top job in governance or managing the bureaucracy of world football. Who would else would you want in that kind of job?
    Depp Blatter? No thanks. Been there, done that, got the T-shirt and the T-shirt is ugly as s$%t.

  15. What’s the difference between Gabriel Jesus and Roberto firminho? I’ve enjoyed enough of the hype…waiting for the proof come August ..

  16. Ahead of the new season, Arsenal need to balance their books in terms of wages. Something tells me neither Ozil nor, Alexis are going to be signing a new contract. And the increase in wages (balanced with departures) will mostly be the new players coming in.

    If departures such as – Jenkinson, Debuchy & Perez do happen, then that should open up two more slots for foreign players as well as reduce the salaries being handed out. It seems the players need to be sold first before any more arrivals can happen.

  17. Am unable to think in the short term only. I know tomorrow is already here. That’s why I can’t understand those who say we should keep Sanchez at all cost (I’d say instead at reasonable cost). Come tomorrow, those same people would be weeping and cursing everybody else but themselves. We must balance today with tomorrow. It is an art.

  18. I also agree ozil and Sanchez are not going to sign. Wenger has two years, no reason for them to sign a long contract knowing there would be uncertainty one year after their current ones run out. Not saying they would sign if Wenger rolls on, just saying nobody likes being committed to uncertainty

  19. Thanks Tim for mentioning endorsements, part of the calculation that is often overlooked. I think Tim and Claude have it about right – Alex is testing the water with his demands, no reason why he shouldn’t, but it’s basically only City and PSG who can feasibly meet them and it doesn’t look like PSG are interested. A deal looks too hard, and while no deal is nobody’s first choice it is probably acceptable to all parties, including City. It’s classic BATNA – Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement. I think he stays and runs down his contract.

  20. As I’ve made clear on here before, I get frustrated when I feel folks (including Tim) are making excuses for Alexis or portraying him in a (not-always-balanced) heroic light. But in this case, I don’t think Alexis is being greedy. I think he’s trying to push us towards selling him to City–just as he already did to Bayern. And I think he’s mostly motivated not by the promise of a bigger salary, but the promise of playing in a team with better players (City’s overall squad isn’t miles ahead of ours, but their attack is certainly better and deeper), with a manager who he probably rates more highly than AW (and I don’t think he dislikes or doesn’t respect Arsene), and with a considerably better chance of winning big trophies in the near future. For one thing, he wants to win the CL, and we’re not even in it this season. And he’s almost 29 so time is not on his side. All of this makes sense.
    On the topic of greed, a) this is probably his last big payday before having to retire in his mid 30’s, with the rest of his post-playing life still in front of him, so it only stands to reason that he’s instructed his agent to get the biggest deal possible for him; b) none of us know what’s in his head or heart, so it’s a bit silly to say he’s fundamentally a greedy person; c) to the degree that he is being greedy, one could make an argument that the majority of elite professional athletes in big sports are similarly prone to greed, and that the rest of us would also be in their position; plus, it’s not just the players: football, including our club, are awash with money (the likes of Wenger and Gazidis are certainly making a ridiculous amount of money too!).
    If there’s anyone whose greed is bad for the sport, and who I’d like to see stopped from pocketing ridiculous sums, it’s the “super-agents” Raiola and Mendes (not saying all agents are bad, but these guys have way too much power at the moment, and are using it to become incredibly destructive parasites on European club football).

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