Wenger Faces Huge Sanchez, Ozil Decision


Alexis Sánchez” (CC BY 2.0) by Ronnie Macdonald

The future of Alexis Sanchez at Arsenal is far from certain as the Chilean has just one year left on his current deal at the Emirates Stadium. The Gunners have made no secret in their attempts to lock down their talisman to a new deal, but have been blighted due to the 28-year-old’s unwillingness to sign a new contract due to the club’s lack of success in major competitions.

Arsenal also face concerns over the contract of Mesut Ozil, which runs out at the same time as his teammate’s. The Gunners have been accused in the past of being a selling club following the departures of Thierry Henry, Cesc Fabregas and Robin van Persie in the last decade.

Arsene Wenger may stride to get the club back on course to challenge for the Premier League by matching the spending of their rivals, splashing out to land Sanchez and Ozil, but now faces a challenge to retain the services of both players to keep his team in contention at the top.

The goals of the Chilean have kept Arsenal in the title race this term, with the club backed in the latest Premier League betting odds at 8/1 to end their drought for the top-flight crown, currently standing 12 years. Remaining competitive on all fronts is paramount to convincing both of their key men to extend their stay in North London for the long term.

Losing Sanchez would be incredibly hard to overcome and would parallel Henry’s exit from the club in 2007. The 28-year-old has been the integral force behind the Gunners’ strong form in the Premier League. Without his 15 goals and seven assists in the top flight, Wenger’s men would probably be sitting outside of the Champions League places, leaving the Frenchman under serious pressure.

There are not many players in the world capable of matching Sanchez’s production on the pitch when he’s at the peak of his powers. Even forwards who have been linked with a move to the Gunners in recent seasons such as Mauro Icardi and Alexandre Lacazette would struggle to match his impact on the final third.

Not only are the Chilean’s goals vital, but he also is a provider for his teammates, while his energy has also been important – proved as he sparked the Gunners’ memorable comeback against Bournemouth at Dean Court. As a result, Wenger must ensure that he puts all his resources into securing Sanchez’s future at the club.

If that were to mean losing Ozil in the process, then it would have to be a necessary evil. The German is one of the best midfielders in the world at the peak of his powers, but his time at Arsenal has been one of highs and lows. His form over the course of last season was a microcosm of his spell at the club, notching assists aplenty in the first half of the term, but failing to fire in the critical moments of the season – he failed to fire, although he was not helped by Olivier Giroud’s goal drought.

However, Ozil has displayed a propensity for going missing in big matches, none more so than his side’s defeat to Manchester City earlier this season. Should that continue to be a theme for the rest of the campaign, keeping him for the long term at the cost of Sanchez would not be in the club’s best interest. Wenger has an important decision to make which could affect Arsenal’s ability to compete not just in the short term, but also in the future.

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