Happy Monday to you. More and more it looks like Alexis Sanchez will be an Arsenal player next season after reports last night suggested that PSG were giving up their pursuit of football’s doggiest forward. They say that the demands placed by his agent were ‘greedy’ [there was some talk of €500,000 a week!], and that Bob Neymar, the Barcelona ingénue, is their main target.
Then we got more comments from Arsene Wenger who said he didn’t believe Alexis was in Paris, and once more hinted that this was more a manifestation of the media than reality:
I read L’Equipe in the last three or four days. It has moved from Sanchez to Neymar. Today they speak about Neymar, three days ago they speak about Alexis. They need as well, like you [reporters], subjects. They cannot get Sanchez so they go for Neymar.
As for his own stance:
My mind has been made up for a while now. I think I made it clear a few times. We are in a strong financial situation. So we want to keep our best players. You can see that there is a fight everywhere to get top players.
Sanchez has got one year to go on his contract and we have no need to make money. He will be part of the team next year.
I realise people will point at other deals down the years where Wenger has said we won’t sell just before we sell, but on this one I can’t see any way we can sanction a deal without the manager looking like he’s got egg all over his face which would be the least of his worries because he’s just shot himself in the foot.
Is that enough to draw a line under this? Probably not. It should be, but you and I both know how things work. Sanchez leaving Arsenal is a thing in itself, but it’s also another thing that generates interest and page views and eyeballs and all the rest, so I suspect there’ll be more to come. However, the one thing we can say with some certainty – whether you believe they’re telling the truth or not – is that the club’s position on this has been consistent throughout.
And for those who worry we’re keeping a disgruntled player against his will, I don’t believe that’s the case here. I think Alexis would like to go somewhere else, where he can play Champions League football and all the rest, but I don’t think he’s unhappy to stay at Arsenal either.
The fact that a big money transfer, with big wages and a big signing on fee didn’t materialise this summer may be an issue for him and (more likely) his agent, but this time next year he’ll still be 29, available on a free and the riches that come with a Bosman move will be his if that’s what he chooses to do. So one more season at a club where he’s comfortable, well liked and a hugely important and valued member of the team is hardly the end of the world.
Now it’s about who else we can bring in to make us better ahead of the new season, because it seems likely our front three will be Sanchez and Ozil providing the creativity and ammunition for Lacazette ahead of them. Not to mention they’re both players capable of scoring plenty themselves. It’s interesting.
The other bit from the manager was with regard to outgoings. With news that Kieran Gibbs won’t be off to West Brom, we still have to deal with the clutch of players who should be on their way out this summer. Wenger said:
There are talks, yes. There is contact but we are not close.
I suspect the tour and being away from home for such a long period of time has been something of an impediment to transfer business both in and out. Now that we’re back and at our desks, so to speak, I would expect things to start happening – particularly with the players who are likely to leave.
Gibbs joins Wilshere, Debuchy, Jenkinson, Perez, Chambers and others who are probably headed for pastures new, and it’s important that we get these deals done. Between the wages they’re paid and the transfer fees we might attract for some of them, there’s a not inconsiderable financial element that may play a part in any further incomings.
Wenger says we don’t need to sell Alexis, but taking a couple of hundred grand off the weekly wage bill and having another £30m or so in the bank to fund purchases will be pretty useful (ballpark figures, I know, but not unrealistic). It’s clear most of these guys have no future with us, so dealing with these situations as quickly as possible would be a good thing.
What’s out of our control though is the way the market is unquestionably more active the closer we get to the deadline, so it may well be a case that some of these deals are done later than we might like because that’s the way the buying clubs are going to operate.
So, there you go. A fresh new Monday. No new Arsecast Extra today because James is still away on holidays, but there’s still Friday’s episode to listen to, talking tactics and more with Michael Cox, if you haven’t already.
And for those of you on the mailing list, I think we’re back in business. Tom has been tinkering away under the hood and it looks like it’s all sorted. There might be a few bits to take care of but you should be getting Arseblog in your box every morning from now on. What a way to start your day!
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