Paul Parker gives his verdict on the contract impasse which has allowed Alexis Sanchez to enter the final year of his deal, with Arsenal seemingly refusing to sell…
Arsenal have been a laughing stock for a few years now but the situation over Alex Sanchez’s unsigned contract means the giggles are being heard again already, just one game into the new season.
I think it’s ludicrous really. How has it come to this? How does a club of this stature let a player of this value go into the last year of his contract? It’s laughable. Arsenal lose their biggest players far too frequently to be taken seriously at the top level and it is going to happen again, one way or another.
Arsenal bought Sanchez at a healthy price, around £35m, and now it seems likely he will go for nothing at the end of the season, costing the club a huge potential transfer fee. In today’s market he could easily go for £100m with a healthy contract in place, but according to Arsene Wenger the decision has been made to keep hold of him this summer and risk losing him for free come June. In today’s football it’s a massive gamble.
Arsenal, much as everyone respects them and their traditions, simply have to change. You can’t just keep someone until the end of their contract. There is a reason Sanchez hasn’t signed a new one: he doesn’t want to be there anymore. He has made his mind up and as we always say, one bad apple spoils the barrel.
Sanchez is not going to enjoy being there. He is seeing what everyone else is getting. He wants some glamour and the opportunity to have a real go at the Champions League and compete at the very top level and win a league title.
Letting him run into the last year of his contract and keeping him around could be detrimental for the rest of the team because he could affect morale. If he can’t give 100% it will cause problems as the players will not trust him, they could lose respect for the manager for allowing it to happen.
We saw last season that Sanchez is capable of causing problems. He was dropped for a vital game away at Liverpool after having a training ground bust-up. This season it could happen all the time. He will be pulling faces every time he is taken off and these things affect players. It’s the last thing Arsenal can afford.
It wouldn’t even be a disaster to sell him to a club like Manchester City, as City are operating on another level. Even if they keep Sanchez, Arsenal are not going to finish above City in the league so if they sell him and he scores 10 hat-tricks in a row it doesn’t really have any kind of impact on Arsenal’s prospects anyway. People will still be laughing at Arsenal regardless.
I think you have to cut your losses, let him go for a fee of around £60m and get someone in who wants to be there and will give you everything. Surely Arsenal’s scouting department is capable of finding someone capable of filling his boots?
You could argue that £60m doesn’t get you much these days and that having the money is useless if you can’t get a replacement. To that I would say two things. Firstly, I think there is still some value in the market and targeting promising young players is a cost-effective strategy. Chelsea also paid £58m for Alvaro Morata, so for that kind of money you can still get a player with the profile Sanchez had when he joined Arsenal: a first-teamer at one of the Spanish giants, but a player who is expendable.
Secondly, you don’t necessarily need to replace like for like. Arsenal have already signed Alexandre Lacazette this summer and he scored in the first game of the season, the 4-3 win over Leicester, along with Danny Welbeck and Olivier Giroud. Mesut Ozil, Alex Iwobi, Theo Walcott and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are also contenders for those three attacking places so Arsenal have plenty of depth in attack.
If you allocate £60m to a defender then you can make the most expensive defensive signing in history. That could get you Virgil van Dijk, a player who would improve Arsenal’s back three or four no end. Arsenal need centre-halves and maybe even a right-back, as Hector Bellerin looks like he has carried over his poor form from last season. They conceded three goals to Leicester at home in their first game.
In all honesty, keeping Sanchez doesn’t make sense in a football sense or a financial sense – so why is he still there with two weeks left of the window?