Wenger confirms Arsenal are trying to swap Sanchez for Mkhitaryan

It’s unusual for Wenger to answer any questions about a transfer until after its done but when questioned today before the match against Crystal Palace (you may not know this but football does happen during the transfer window) he was frank about the deal. Arsenal are selling Alexis to Man U and trying to get Mkhitaryan in return. In fact, the entire deal hinges on getting a player in return. Wenger said,

“Look, the problem was exactly similar to what it is today. I only accept to let him go if somebody else comes in for him and it was not possible in the summer. I would have done it, but it was not possible as it happened very late on the last day of the transfer market and that’s why it didn’t happen. Overall, if it happens now it is because somebody else comes in for him.”

The player this summer was Thomas Lemar, today it’s Henrikh Mkhitaryan.

Asked whether wages were the problem, Wenger said no and halted any conversation about how much Man U were offering Alexis Sanchez. Rumor from Matt Law (the Telegraph) says that United are offering Alexis £27m annual wages over 4.5 years, a £20m signing bonus, £10m to his agent, and throwing in £25m to Arsenal. How much of that last amount Arsenal will actual recoup is unknown with other sources saying that Arsenal would get nothing in return if Mkhitaryan is included.

It’s an enormous outlay for a player who just turned 29. In the first full year of his contract, Man U will be paying around £70m just in the player’s salaries and fees. That’s not including any money transfered to Arsenal as part of the deal.

Probably owing to that fact, Wenger was asked if wages were a problem at Arsenal and he responded saying that clubs like United and City were on another level but also that wages shouldn’t be an excuse for Arsenal because as he admitted Arsenal are in the top tier. City’s rumored deal to Alexis was slightly less in wages, £25m, a smaller bonus of £15m, and a smaller agent’s fee of £5m. That would have put them at a first full year’s outlay of “ONLY” £57m.

The deal for Alexis-Mhkitaryan is expected to be concluded within the next 24-48 hours. Read all of Wenger’s fascinating quotes on the topic over at Arsenal.com.


Source: https://www.arsenal.com/news/whats-latest-alexis-and-mkhitaryan


  1. Money quote from Arsene today >> “I wouldn’t like to come out on the numbers because that’s Man United’s problem. I respect Man United because they generate the money they pay with their own resources.”

    1. This is true. End of the day United may spend ridiculous amounts of money but they are not doing it with the financial doping provided by corrupt nation-states that endorse slavery and refuse their citizens property rights. Much as I might admire the football City are playing, my knowing what funds this team taints my appreciation for them.

      United are the biggest club in the world legitimately having worked their way to that status over the past 50 years.

  2. Hi mate, always got your finger on the pulse. Listen. Can you settle a heated point of contention. In some circles your stats have as much authority as Ornstein himself. Is there any offensive quartet in Europe, over the last 2-3 years that has more aggregate goals/assists as LMAO (Lacazette, Mkhitaryan, Aubameyang, Ozil)?

    1. You mean, could I put four random players together and make a fake team of guys who have as much attack or does this have to be current teammates?

    2. Let’s just do teammates and I have to limit to just goals scored because they are probably assisting each other and I don’t have the data readily available to tease that out.

      So, Benzema, James, Ronaldo, and Bale scored 89 goals in 2014/15 and Messi, Neymar, Suarez, Pedro scored 87 the same season.

      If we take the best scoring seasons from Ozil and Mkhitaryan and Lacazette and Auba they only get us up to 79.

      I don’t think Auba and Lacazette will play together a lot but then again, who knows? When Wenger bought Anelka he wanted to buy Henry at the same time with the dream to play them both together. 442 is also Wenger’s prefered formation but I’m really not sure how Auba and Lacazette will fit into that or even into a 433 since neither of them are great users of the ball out wide.

      But a front four of Ozil, Mkhi, Lacazette, and Auba would mean that there are four players literally not playing any defense at any time. Wenger would need to have 6 players behind them doing all of the dirty work. I don’t know how I see that working without Wenger buying a real center mid who can cover and chaining Aaron Ramsey to the back line as well. But it’s not my job to make those things work.

      1. I reckon Wenger will go for wacky 4-2-2-2. With mkhi and Ozil behind auba and lava. He will just play then and hope they work it out.

        It will be bad for width and as the FBs will just push up to mitigate that, and Ramsay will still bomb forward, we will have all sort of defensive problems.

        1. It’s not like we don’t right now. Maybe the attack lighting it up is an easier way to fix our problems at this time.

          For what it’s worth I agree that we’ll likely go for a box 4 in midfield, though Ozil/Auba and Miki would ostensibly start wide. It could work wonders in attack if they can tune their games to each other. If nothing else, it should at least make our games more fun.

      2. Thanks mate, exactly what I was looking for. Always good with stats…I see your point re Auba v Laca starting.. but don’t you think we will play with a diamond….With Laca at top Ozil at the bottom and Auba and Mhiki in flanking positions…mmm

        1. It seems soon. I’m also hugely surprised and skeptical about this, for all sorts of reasons. I can’t help but feel this (more than the Auba transfer, which is also all sorts of crazy) will be a terrible disaster.

          1. Both moves could totally blow up in our faces, I agree. Though I think I mainly feel that way because of their ages. If they were both 25, I’d probably just be really excited. Let’s hope they’ve both got a few peak years left in them (even 18 months could do).

  3. Arsene hates the mid-season transfer window. Touch wood (I wont believe any arrival or departure till it happens), it may be his most productive ever.

    Reports that the squad want to be shot of Sanchez seem credible. Tick*

    Theo out, fee in, wages freed up. Tick
    Coq out, room created for breaking-through talent, wages freed up. Tick.
    Very good attacking wide player in. Tick*
    Very good CF in on the relatively cheap. Tick*

    We are short of muscle in midfield (our mythical elegant beast), but we’d actually be in better shape if both arrivals materialise. Better shape that is, if we’re talking about last season’s Sanchez, rather than this season’s one.

    If Giroud stays (as reported) and Auba comes, Welbeck is done at Arsenal.

    *TBC being the obvious not of caution

    1. I thought there was talk of a Giroud-Auba swap as well?

      One of Giroud and Welbeck is likely out if these deals go through, and Giroud is obviously the better player, so hope he stays.

      What does that mean for our HG quota though with Coq, Walcott and Welbeck out?

      Hmm.. Quick check. Bellerin, Holding, Chambers, Ramsey, Wilshere, Akpom, Macey, (Niles and Iwobi still count as U21)

    2. ‘Theo out, fee in, wages freed up. Tick
      Coq out, room created for breaking-through talent, wages freed up. Tick.’
      Young unknown player. who probably won’t make first team in. Tick.
      Deals drag on and fall through at last minute. Tick.
      Transfer window closes. Tick.
      Arsenal make transfer profit. Tick

      Only joking 🙂 (fingers crossed)

  4. “Better shape that is, if we’re talking about last season’s Sanchez, rather than this season’s one.”

    ^^ should obviously be the other way around

  5. I am coming around to the Auba-Laca combo a bit more. Arseblog has a nice article about Laca’s struggles. He partly attributes it to Ramsey not being there to make runs forward. That, and a general lack of service (and Ozil being injured). Auba would be a big boon to Laca, imo. He will take up defenders with his runs, leaving Laca more space to operate. And Auba has the pace to do just that. The hoped-for cascading effect would be that Ramsey doesn’t need to make so many runs forward, and we can play a more disciplined midfield (Cue the optimistic musical soundtrack) – maybe less Ramsey, more Jack/Elneny/AMN who are more defensive-minded. As mentioned above, maintaining width in attack becomes an issue. But maybe when we throw this new spaghetti against the wall, something will stick. And maybe pigs will fly.

      1. Yeah, the pro-Ramsey/anti-Wilshere bias from both Stillman and Mangan is puzzling to me and a bit nauseating, easily the worst thing about the Arseblog website (that and Mangan’s obsession with Bellerin). Otherwise it’s grand.

      2. He’s a Ramsey fan for a good reason… th e Welshman was one of our most effective players till he got injured. In fact, this team has looked like it’s missed his invention, drive and energy, because our poor run is definitely coincident with, and arguably correlated to, his absence. So has the dip in form of Lacazette, with whom he has a good understanding.

        1. Hmm, what’s that old saw about correlation and causation?

          Ramsey was in good form, his best in years, and I was happy he was in the team. But we were hardly tearing up this league before his injury (and incidentally, he’s not the only one that’s missed games in the last month).

          Also, no one can look at Jack Wilshere’s performances in the last few games and tell me Ramsey was playing better a month ago than Jack is now. They’re pretty different players, but the one is the direct replacement of the other in the lineup, and just in terms of pure quality there’s been no drop off with that switch.

          Finally, talking about that poor run, I think those games can be divided up pretty cleanly between those in which our defense spectacularly let us down, and those in which our offense was sterile (Bournemouth being a combo of the two). Of those in the latter category, all of them, with the exception of West Ham, were games in which Mesut Ozil was absent (and in that game Wenger got his lineup horribly wrong, picking a static Giroud and a team with zero width against a team parking the bus). When Ozil’s played, our offense has looked pretty decent, and occasionally excellent, in the 6 weeks. Without him it’s sucked.

          Finally, Ramsey and Lacazette may have been starting to form an understanding, but for much of the first part of the season, it looked to me (and not only to me) like Ramsey was getting in the way of Laca, making the runs he wanted to make, as much as he was supporting him.

          1. I agree with Sanchez’s form in the toilet, Ozil and Ramsey are our key attacking players. But we should have enough strength in depth to ride out their absence for a couple of weeks…

          2. Yes, Ramsey’s form prior to injury is better than Wilshere’s is now.

            And yes, it’s only you seeing him getting in Lacazette’s way. This is you on a pre-existing narrative.

            Here’s a stat to munch on. Through start December, Aaron Ramsey was the play involved in the most Arsenal goals — scoring or assisting.

            Your fixation with Ramsey — including disliking a journalist for appreciating the player — is kind of amusing.

        1. Ah, the old “I’m going to look clever by making the “point” that people who decry bias must themselves be biased” line.

          Never change, Doc.

    1. As for fears about a lack of width, Ozil and Mikki both are perfectly happy spending a large amount of time attacking down the flanks. It’s not that we’ll have no one pealing outside to whip in crosses (at which they both excel).
      The issue rather, I think, is that you can’t expect either to be happy to stay out there, and if we play the other two up top, then that clogs up the space in the middle that Ozil and Mikki will want to run into.

      1. But maybe some hybrid of 4-4-2/4-3-3 could work (with Ozil and Mikki starting nominally out wide in freeish roles, but one tucking in and one pushing on). As Lagunner points out, that’s much more likely to work if we have two other central midfielders that hold their positions, which means Ramsey looks like the odd one out in this formation (Claude probably thinks I’m thrilled about that, but I’m really not, as I was thinking a midfield three featuring both of them was the way to go forward).

  6. I’m sorry, reading all this speculation about how we’re going to play Myhkitaryan, Aubemayang, Ozil and Lacazette together is hilarious.

    Go ahead, play them all together with centre-forward-wannabe Ramsey in midfield behind them. And Bellerin, Monreal (or Kolasinac) bombing forward on the flanks . 6 at the back? Try 3.

    Cryuff-ian total football. Let’s get those Orange away-jerseys printed.

    We cannot defend. Xhaka has shown he cannot hold the fort by himself. This is not serious team management. This is desperate PR moves.

    I wish (I know it will never happen) we were talking about big name purchases like Aymeric Laporte from Bilbao to replace Koscielny as our stud CB and take Mustafi out of the line-up… but no. We’re going to blow all our powder on slender attacking dilettantes that wont be able to stop a sneeze.

    1. I agree that it isn’t a balanced lineup, if indeed it is to be the lineup. But PR moves? Arsenal don’t buy players for PR purposes, unless you count a certain South Korean maybe.

      It is a very un-Arsenal venture into the transfer market, but if the club believes in some of the youth we have in our ranks (Iwobi, Nelson, Willock, Adelaide, Nketiah, Holding, Mavropanos, Sheaf, Bielik etc) getting good attacking players, who at 29 should be at their peak, makes sense. Just because we have problems defending doesn’t mean we don’t need an upgrade/change further up field.

      Also, I think it is preferable to switch up attacking personnel mid-season rather than defensive personnel, since defending is more a team thing, and individuals, even stud CBs, are less likely to make an immediate difference to the output.

    2. Why is it “hilarious”? The smugness is strange. No one on here (that I remember) is suggesting all our problems are going to be solved by buying these two players. We’re asking the question of how we’re going to line up because,
      a) it’s a legitimately good question, as the answer is important and not at all obvious
      b) it’s fun to speculate about lineups of sports teams one follows (I guess that’s the little boy in me, but if you can’t enjoy that anymore, what’s the point?)

      1. Don’t mean to be smug nor make fun of anyone… I am more just upset with the club. Is this an exercise they’ve gone through internally? Surely they’ve also sat down and wondered how would we play all these lightweights in the same starting XI.

        Perhaps my own biases are coming to the fore – my thoughts on constructing a team are you would pick a basic formation and style you’d want to play and find the best players for that system to populate your starting XI. The starting XI should be very balanced in terms of capabilities in the four phases of the game (defending/transitioning from defense to attack/attack/transitioning from attack to defense). There might be some iterations there, but once you have that sorted you back fill with the best young talented understudies for the starting XI you can find – young because you want hungry players to push the starters and who when given the chance to start see a need to grab hold with both hands. That gets you 22 players, the last 3 are bonus.

        I don’t see that happening here at all. Myhkitaryan’s best position at Dortmund was not the wing, it was #10. That’s Ozil’s best position. Aubamayang’s best position is CF. That’s Lacazette’s best position. It makes zero sense to me.

        C’est la vie at Arsenal.

  7. Do you think he is interested in turning Myhkitaryan into a CM aka Santi or Arteta? He seems to like to turn wide and attacking midfield players more defensive as they get older.

    1. Ow and thanks Tim for the amazing blog I have been checking here every morning for 6 years. I’m sorry I don’t contribute to the discussion, but I really appreciate your work.

    2. Not a chance. It seems more likely to me he’ll want to play Ozil deeper for the rest of the season, rather than HM (though in a three, rather than a two). Nothing I’ve seen of Mhki suggests he could play deep midfield, but hey, would be happy to be proven wrong.

      As good as Santi is, I actually don’t think that’s the biggest need in our squad anyway, with Jack back and in form. Of course you *always* miss a player of Santi’s ability in your team, and we certainly have missed his particular skill set a lot since he first started having the injury troubles. But right now I think Claude is right that the “Elegant Beast” is the guy we’re missing (Xhaka with speed and better tackling, basically). Play that guy next to Jack and we’d be good (aside from the holes in defense and the suicidal way Wenger lets too many of our players get ahead of the ball when we attack…).

      1. That guy was le coq. I think Viera or petit can come in and it won’t make a difference because defense is a team game

    3. That’s a potentially really beautiful solution, considering the similarities in the career arcs of other players who have successfully transitioned into anchor roles. It probably will happen as he ages and loses a step or two in attacking areas.

    4. It should be pointed out that Mourinho tried that, playing him in CM and asking him to sit deeper. Did he stick with it long enough to see progress? Maybe not. But Mourinho has been moving Mykhitaryan around the field for a year and a half trying to find where he’d fit in best. Mourinho’s stuck him out on the wing mostly, more because that’s the position he can do the least amount of damage defensively.

  8. It’s not weird to have Aubameyang and Lacazette in the same team. It’s grand. You’re taking out Theo Walcott and Danny Welbeck and replacing them with a player who can actually play center forward at a high level. Whenever you can add a reliable source of goals, you do it and worry about formations and all that nonsense later. Whenever you can sign a player like Aubameyang, you Effin do it and ask questions later.

    Mhki is a case of getting a like for like for Sanchez and that’s clear as day to me— easy to see why Wenger can’t let him go Without replacement. I like Mhki. Much better player than he’s shown at United where I think he, like Mata and any other players with subtlety, are poor program fits for Mourinho. I do think he plays defense, more so than Sanchez anyway.

    Players like that, you gotta get while you can, and worry about having too many good offensive players later. Jeez, like that’s an issue we’ve had lately… is welcome it.

    1. “Whenever you can sign a player like Aubameyang, you Effin do it and ask questions later.

      Can somebody give me an “amen?”

  9. Sanchez and Welbeck add drive, closing down and tackling from the front. That’s my only real concern. Auba looks like he can contribute in that regard but I don’t really know. Mkhi doesn’t look like that kind of player. Happy to be proved wrong.

    The obvious factor that we’re not really mentioning is that Mkhi and Auba know each other and seem very interested in linking up again – at least from Auba’s side. So bedding in should be quick. I remember couple of seasons ago when we were all envious of Dortmund’s attack, and now it looks like we’ll end up with an (improved?) version of it, roughly speaking with Ozil, Laca and Ramsey instead of Reus, Kagawa and Gundogan. Shoudl be interesting at the very least.

  10. I dunno about you guys, but with out prospective LMAO forward line and Ramsey joining in, I find the prospect of thrilling 6-5 victories quite appealing.

  11. Top players will hustle and track back without the ball if they’ve bought in to the system and the coach’s message. Just look at Silva and KdB at City, or Sanchez for Chile (in big games at least). I recall Mhki having quite the appetite for hunting the ball under Klopp. Regardless, we need as many quality players as we can possibly squeeze in through the door, in whatever position just in general but especially because this squad needs an overhaul this summer and starting that process now can only help.

    Venturing briefly into the pointless exercise of hypothetical X’s and O’s, I will point out that Wenger’s forwards have always played a largely fluid role that relies more on combinations and spontaneity than rigid structure or pre-determined roles. Aubameyang and Lacazette may be similar in style but there is no reason why they couldn’t share the pitch and alternate in wide and central roles; that’s exactly what Arsenal’s forwards have been doing anyways, but they have done it without conviction because those wide forwards were never center forwards. Pairing those two would scare the bejesus out of defenders and force them to drop deep to prevent runs behind, which would give more time and space for the midfield to operate and, should he stay on, Ozil the best pair of targets he could wish for those crosses and throughballs he’s so good at. “But who will carry the water in midfield?” is the eternal unanswered question and I don’t expect it to be resolved this season. Right now, we just need more goals because we’re not going to defend well.

  12. WRT “drive, closing down and tackling from the front.”

    Auba and Mhki played together in Klopps gegenpress from 2013 to 2015 right? I didnt watch them enough to have a real opinion, but the highlights from those years look promising.

  13. I think I’ve figured out the end goal of our transfer policy…

    David O spina
    Konstantimos M avropanos
    Charlie G ilmour
    Aaron R amsey
    Jordi O sei-Tutu
    Nathan T ormey
    Yassin F ourtune
    Alexandre L acazette
    Henrikh M khitaryan
    Pierre-Emerick A ubameyang
    Mesut Ö zil

  14. It matters f**k all who comes in. Messi could come into this team and he would look like an ordinary player as long as our midfield issues aren’t sorted. I’ve run out of patience with Xhaka. He needs to be sold.

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