The futures of Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Özil were the only thing Arsenal fans could talk about for the whole of last season. Arsène Wenger was bombarded with question after question at every press conference.
Now we’re closing in on the start of the 2017/18 campaign, and only one of the duo’s futures seems to be sorted. Mesut Özil has publicly announced his desire to stay in London for the coming year, Alexis Sanchez hasn’t.
Amidst interest from Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain, Alexis Sanchez’s future seems unclear. It’s believed that Arsenal are demanding a fee north of £70m for the Chilean, a fee both these super-clubs could afford.
With an impending exit looking more than likely, it’s time for Arsenal fans to get used to seeing a Gunners starting XI without Alexis again. Here’s why the club should just sell the Chilean.
At the end of the day, Arsenal Football Club was alive before Alexis Sanchez came to the club and they will still stand if he leaves. One player does not make a club, neither does he define it.
He may be the brightest star of the bunch, but he was still part of the same squad that finished 5th. It’s not as if he’s exempt from the blame; he was on those pitches when Arsenal capitulated twice against Bayern Munich. He hid behind others in Arsenal’s worst moments of the season, but when the team were flying, he was first to point to the cameras.
Sometimes when all the plaudits and spotlight go to one player, it restricts the growth of others. Alexis Sanchez is the marquee name at the Emirates, meaning most games revolve around his performance and influence.
Such a dominating effect can choke hold others in the team, who feel extreme pressure to satisfy the needs of Alexis. If Arsenal were to sell Alexis, fringe players like Alex Iwobi and Joel Campbell could show their true potential in his absence.
Last season, Alexis Sanchez returned his best ever goalscoring tally for a single campaign. The Chilean scored 30 goals for Arsenal, whilst providing 13 assists. Those numbers wouldn’t be possible if it weren’t for the foresight of Arsène Wenger to play the 28-year old in a centre forward position. He owes his success to the Frenchman, but instead he’s repaying him by showing disloyalty.
When the star man abandons ship, one of the other sailors must step up and steer the ship. In this case, senior players like Mesut Özil, Theo Walcott, Danny Welbeck and new signing Alexandre Lacazette must now share that responsibility and compensate for it.
For as many goals he scores, the Chilean still has his obvious flaws. So obvious that Arsène Wenger had to take him from his natural position on the wing to up front.
Sánchez is terrible at ball retention; he’s only effective when he’s in front of goal. Last season, the Chilean produced a woeful 73% pass accuracy, 60% of these passes were made in the final third. Meaning he gave the ball away continuously in compromising positions.
For every cloud there’s a silver lining if Alexis goes, Arsenal’s ball retention in the final third would significantly improve. Yes, Alexis is world class but he’s not enough of an asset to sacrifice the chemistry of the team. You watch how fluidly Arsenal attack without the Chilean there to misplace passes.