Arsene Wenger has never been the January transfer window’s biggest fan and this mid-season break could prove to be the most displeasing yet. The Frenchman would most likely prefer to focus his attention on proceedings on the pitch, with the title race heating up week-by-week, but the club is currently in stasis off-field, aiming to strike deals with Mesut Özil and Alexis Sanchez, whose contracts expire in eighteen months.
The latter has been particularly problematic, with the media keen to link the Chilean with every side under the sun and there are a number of reasons why the forward should look elsewhere to see out his career.
Sanchez appeared visibly frustrated following his side’s 3-3 draw with Bournemouth at the turn of the year. Whilst his team-mates celebrated a remarkable comeback from 3-0 down, the 28-year-old hurled his gloves to the ground at the full-time whistle and would not acknowledge his fellow Gooners on the pitch or in the dressing room afterwards.
The Chilean’s despondent behaviour prompted the club to up their contract renewal offer to £180,000 per week, with others suggesting the North London outfit could raise the figure to as high as £200,000. It seems, however, unlikely that Sanchez will negotiate and has his heart set on leaving the Emirates at the end of the season and there’s much evidence to suggest that would be the right move.
The lure of Bavaria
Whilst the likes of Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain have shown, Bayern Munich have been touted as one of the most likely destination should Sanchez see through a move in the coming months. The Germans have expressed interest for quite some time now and it would be a move that would see Alexis paired up with fellow former U-20 International Arturo Vidal, who played with Sanchez at youth level through to the Colo Colo first team in 2006. The two have quite a friendship and the current Bayern Munich midfielder urged Sanchez to sign at the back-end of last season.
This campaign the Germans are on course for a fifth consecutive Bundesliga title and will, in fact, be looking to navigate their way past the North-Londoners in the UEFA Champions League ‘round of sixteen’ next month. With names such as Lewandowski, Neuer and Boateng in their ranks, Bayern Munich are undoubtedly a world-class side, renowned for not only unrelenting domestic success but increasingly impressive performances on the continental stage.
A move to Germany would mean a move to a less competitive league than the Premier division, meaning Sanchez’s chance of hoovering up trophies will significantly increase, as will the likelihood of Champions League success, with the Gunners having not made the quarter-final phase of the competition since 2010.
Sanchez would be a suitable replacement for the ageing Franck Ribery, who will be 34-years-old this term. He would, therefore, have a fairly comfortable and certain future ahead of him, whilst he’d get the opportunity to play primarily on the flank, a position he’s had a fairly limited experience of in the English capital, with Wenger often calling on the Chilean to play through the centre as cover.
Jump on the wealth-wagon!
Whether Sanchez opts for Munich, Paris or Turin, he will certainly see a steep increase in his wage, with the continent’s biggest clubs willing to fork out big pay packages this window, in an attempt to fight off competition from the Far East.
As much as one would like to think of Alexis Sanchez as more morally astute than the likes of Jackson Martinez or Alex Teixeira, who’ve already cashed in on the Chinese Super League’s wealth, it’s difficult to see how he could turn down such an offer if a club from the division came knocking.
North London niggles
He may go, he may stay, but one thing’s for certain – Alexis Sanchez is unsettled at Arsenal as it stands. Equally, the cloud of doubt over the Chilean’s future is causing many a problem for the Arsenal board, who will want a deal, or at the very least a decision, to have been made by the end of this window, so they know whether or not to begin the search for Sanchez’s replacement, which rumours suggest would be Marco Reus.
It would be a major blow for the Gunners. Former Arsenal forward Emmanuel Adebayor claimed in an interview with the Guardian that, “Arsenal’s problem is that today they are just Ozil and Sanchez. If one of them gets injured, it is a problem.” The Togo international may have been pretty spiteful to his former club since leaving over the years but there’s truth in what he says.
This campaign, Sanchez is the club’s leading scorer in the Premier League by some distance, having scored 14 goals, as well having created the most chances of any other player with 56. There’s a strong dependency on his services, so much so that at times it seems the Chilean is almost, as much as I hate to say it, ‘carrying’ the team.
The aforementioned close to the match against Bournemouth also epitomises the contrast in expectations of Sanchez and the rest of the Arsenal contingent. The former-Barcelona individual often seems incredibly flustered come the close of games, more so than the rest of the Arsenal team and has had clashes with the likes of Aaron Ramsey and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain in the last twelve months or so.
As an Arsenal supporter myself, I would love to see Sanchez put pen to paper on a long-term deal with the club; he undoubtedly fits the Arsenal style of play and is well-suited to the speed and intensity of the Premier League. That said, the division is tough and, if it’s supreme success and trophies the Chilean wants, it’s unlikely he’ll see that ever season in North London.