Arsenal appear to be well down the road to signing Alexis Sanchez from Barcelona, essentially killing two birds with one stone in their need to address the centre-forward position and add depth beyond Theo Walcott for the flanks.
If there was any doubt about Alexis’ credentials, especially after a frustrating and completely forgettable 2012-13 campaign with Barcelona two years ago, the World Cup in Brazil has shown the Chilean to be exactly the kind of marquee forward Arsenal’s supporters have been crying out for.
We’ve been here before though, and many will be sceptical until pictures of Alexis with an Arsenal shirt in hand emerge. Last summer, Arsenal were said to be on the brink of signing Gonzalo Higuain, only for the Argentine to land at Napoli instead. The north London club had accused Real Madrid of moving the goal posts on the deal at the last minute.
But Alexis would more than make up for that loss. With Olivier Giroud also experiencing a good World Cup with France, Arsenal, on paper at least, would look a far more threatening outfit over the course of next season.
The Chilean would also negate the need for Angel Di Maria, who is another big-name South American who looks set to leave La Liga.
Arsenal were interested last year and could have landed the Real Madrid winger had it not been for Carlo Ancelotti’s intervention, instead securing the signing of Mesut Ozil. What is certain is that Arsenal need two forwards, one capable of playing on the wing. In the case of Alexis and Di Maria, one would cancel the other out.
Di Maria does provide different qualities to the Chilean. This past season he showed himself to be a more than capable central midfielder, playing alongside of Xabi Alonso and Luka Modric and given the freedom to roam. He was sensational against Barcelona in particular, while his best season in the white of Real was capped with victory in the Champions League.
There’s no doubt that Di Maria is a player who would improve Arsenal over the coming seasons. He and Mesut Ozil would interchange roles in the attacking three while both were playing at the Bernabeu, and there’d be an opportunity for both midfielders to strike up a similar partnership.
But Arsenal would be getting that and much more in Alexis, who, unlike Di Maria, can play at centre-forward and relieve some pressure from Giroud.
To venture down the avenue of suggesting Arsenal don’t need Di Maria would be wrong; it wasn’t too long ago that many, including myself, were talking up the value of having Cesc Fabregas return to the club. Above all, Arsenal need strength in depth.
But Real want £40 million for Di Maria, while Alexis would be a little under £30 million. With a high-class defensive midfielder needed, as well as a right-back and another forward (possibly Loic Remy), the focus must be on what the team need first and foremost. In addition, Fabregas was available for a deal that was far better value for money than Di Maria’s price tag.
If the club can wrap up a deal for Alexis in the coming weeks, it will be a positive sign to the supporters, who need convincing after the failure to properly strength during the last two windows and the complete collapse last season.
If what is said to be on the table does come to fruition, missing out on Angel Di Maria will be dusted away with the kind of renewed confidence that can only be delivered by star forwards such as Alexis.