Saturday, July 08, 2017

Possible ways to handle the Sanchez situation?

Arsenal are in a conundrum. Their best player is not signing a contract extension. Sounds familiar? We have been there before and we have messed up big time before. We sold our top players to an upcoming cash rich team in Manchester City in 2011 and they went on to achieve big things and are now among the top 4 teams in the premier league. We sold our best player, RvP, to Manchester United in 2012 and they went on to win the premier league that season. In 2000's, we sold perhaps the best left back in the league, Cole, to strengthen our London rivals in Chelsea. Yes, all that was to finance our new stadium, but at what cost?

The circle is repeating itself again. 

Possible ways for Arsenal to handle the Sanchez situation

Alexis Sanchez is the player involved this time. Sanchez scored 30 goals in total last season and when we add double-digit assists, we know this was a breakout season for him. Arsenal have an offer on the table for Sanchez which is much better than his current one and perhaps comparable to offers from other teams. But Sanchez hasn't signed it yet. When asked, Sanchez said he is sure about what he will do next season but won't reveal it yet. All these statements are facts. 

Now about unconfirmed statements - Sanchez wants to join Guardiola in Manchester City. Sanchez is asking for 400k in weekly remuneration from Arsenal to sign contract extension. Sanchez wants to leave Arsenal as we are no longer in Champions League (akin to leaving the sinking ship argument). Bayern have moved away from signing Sanchez due to the cost involved. Chelsea are monitoring the situation. Inter Milan is the latest entrant to entice Sanchez. 

What can Arsenal do in this situation? Cash-in like we did last time? And to whom? See out Sanchez' contract, like we haven't done ever with our top players! Give him what he needs and let him sign on the dotted line? Every option comes with pros and cons. And is not as easy as it sounds too.

This is what I think Arsenal should do, in decreasing order of priority - 

3. Sell him to maximum bidder - The easiest option to balance the books. We have experience in this regard. Sanchez going to Manchester City will immediately catapult the citizens as favorites to win the league this season. Arsenal, on their part, is bound to received at least 30-35 million - a decent amount for a player in the last year of contractual obligation. But, if this happens, Arsenal will remain as the team that doesn't have a winning spirit as we strengthen our rivals and decrease our own chance of winning the league. Where's the ambition? Yes, that amount recuperated will be spent on buying players, but that's always a risk, a risk that has hardly benefited Arsenal in the past. In my opinion, this should be the last option, unless Sanchez throws in the kitchen sink to force through a move to Manchester City.

2. Sell him abroad, not necessarily the highest bidder - A rational option for Arsenal to pursue is to sell him abroad. Arsenal won't get the money Manchester City were ready to pay, but will ensure Sanchez doesn't remain in the premier league and lead our competitors to league glory. So, who are the options? Real Madrid and Barcelona won't be interested as they are already full of top talent and Sanchez was a reject from Barcelona (irony!). That leaves teams like PSG from France, Bayern from Germany and Inter Milan from Italy. It appears that Bayern had shown interest but backed out due to cost constraints. PSG and Inter are cash rich clubs and can offer what Sanchez is looking for - assuming Sanchez needs more cash, Champions League and Trophies.

1. See out Sanchez' contract - Let me just state on record that I will be shocked if this happens. I have been an Arsenal fan for long. And I know for a fact that Arsenal won't allow the situation to come to this stage. Arsenal is a professionally run club that is equally interested in trophies and profits. But what a statement of intent will it be! The footballing world hasn't seen such an Arsenal club before. If we don't allow Sanchez to force through a move, we will have Sanchez for one more year. Add Lacazette and Ozil in the attacking three, we are truly a team that will challenge for the league this year. A positive string of matches followed by a killer instinct to win the games and the chemistry might just force Sanchez to believe Arsenal is the club where he should continue. And he might just sign an extension. If we lose him on a free next season, so be it. This statement will change the perception of Arsenal in the footballing circle and the players will know that Arsenal means business when it comes to honoring contracts. 

Of course, the above options are assuming Sanchez is hell bent on leaving. Media is painting a dark perception of Sanchez and we, as Arsenal fans, should not fall for it. Sanchez hasn't mentioned anything concrete yet. I personally want Sanchez to stay but there's a part of me that feels he will leave. If his priority is participation in the Champions League and a better contract (probably his last big contract) is the key, then we cannot offer him that. 

Arsenal, please make a statement here. Take a financial hit. Maybe Sanchez for one more year will be like a new signing!

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