Ever since Arsenal hit a bad patch of form in the New Year Alexis Sanchez’s future has been up in the air.
The Gunners were embarrassed by Bayern Munich in the Champions League and lost five out of eight Premier League games between the end of January and beginning of April, ultimately costing them a place in the top four.
With no Champions League football and a seemingly unambitious board, Sanchez didn’t appear happy at being put back on the wing despite thriving up front and was reportedly dropped for a match against Liverpool after a training ground bust-up.
The main predicament Arsene Wenger faces is whether to admit defeat and cash in now, or keep Sanchez at the club for another year and risk losing him for nothing next summer.
The figures touted have generally been around the £40-50m mark – a hefty chunk of money for someone who is 28-years-old and with less than a year left on his current deal.
Some would urge the Arsenal manager to cash in on a player who is clearly unhappy and may well unbalance the dressing room.
In the majority of case this would be the sensible call. But Sanchez is no ordinary player, and in this case, letting him go would be a huge mistake.
For a start, the Chilean is currently the club’s undisputed best player. While Mesut Ozil is class on his day, he hasn’t come close to ex-Barcelona man’s impact of 72 goals in 145 games, while it remains to be seen how high-profile signing Alexandre Lacazette will fare.
If Wenger is serious about getting Arsenal back on the title scene this season, he will need Sanchez and he will need him firing.
But will an unhappy Sanchez have the same impact? If past form is anything to go by, then yes.
Thankfully for Arsenal, the attacker loves playing football and scoring goals. There are few players on the planet who seem to have his fighting mentality to chase every loose end and keep going for 90 minutes. If there’s one thing Sanchez would hate more than playing for a club he doesn’t want to be at, it would be playing for nobody at all.
Secondly, Arsenal should not even entertain the idea of selling to a rival. The club have a history of selling to City with Gael Clichy, Samir Nasri and Emanuel Adebayor among others making the move. By far the worst was when Robin Van Persie moved to rivals Manchester United in 2012 in a move that the Gunners arguably never really recovered from. Sanchez is the only player they’ve had on that level since, and selling him while strengthening City would set them back again.
Finally, as we’ve seen with Premier League spending as it currently, the £40m touted isn’t even a huge amount for a top player. We’ve seen numerous players move this window for similar fees and, regardless of his contract, that amount would not come close to signing the calibre of player needed to replace him.
If Wenger is serious about challenging for trophies, he needs to match the Chilean’s ambition by keeping his squad together and really going for the league. A real challenge may persuade Sanchez to stay or even win the league – something money can’t buy.