It’s groundhog day once again at Arsenal – two key players are set to leave the club after their contracts were inexplicably allowed to run down into their final year without renewal.
The impending departures of Alexis Sanchez and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain both represent the ultimate failings at Arsenal on different scales, as a star and a future star both seek pastures new to progress at different stages of their career.
For Sanchez, 29, the reality has hit home that he will simply be unable to win the Premier League under the current regime at the Emirates Stadium and – no matter how hard he tries – there will be no mentality change anytime soon. Say what you will about the on-field tantrums and outbursts of rage, but it proved Sanchez genuinely cared and is a born winner. The same can’t be said for the rest of his teammates.
The Chilean was one of the few players over the past decade to challenge the mediocrity which has arrived with the Emirates Stadium; unwilling to settle for just FA Cup wins. Whispers from inside the club suggest the players will be glad to see the back of the often divisive Sanchez, but had they had more players with ambition and workrate similar to him, they certainly wouldn’t be getting beat 4-0 at Anfield.
Sanchez may not have covered himself in glory during the defeat to Liverpool, but it was his first competitive appearance since the Confederations Cup Final on July 2. His desire to move is not cash-incentivized, with Manchester City offering him the opportunity to challenge for the title. Arsenal, are in no such position.
Another who saw the game pass him by against Liverpool was Oxlade-Chamberlain, who now looks set to join the Reds and Jurgen Klopp, who has promised that he will play in his favoured central midfield role should he come to Anfield.
Again, Oxlade-Chamberlain’s motives are not fuelled by money either, having rejected a £150,000-a-week contract to stay in north London under Wenger. The 24-year-old has never hidden his desire to play in midfield, and when he sees the type of performances Granit Xhaka has put in at the start of this season without having a chance of playing himself, there’s no reason why he would wish to remain at Arsenal.
Money talks but even the Gunners weren’t able to offer Oxlade-Chamberlain enough money to stay, showing that both he, and Sanchez, are aware of the direction the club is swiftly heading in.
From a PR perspective, losing these two players after Arsene Wenger insisted so staunchly that they would not be sold throughout the summer. Doing so this late with little time remaining to bring in replacements would be even worse, highlighting once again the lack of organisation and direction in the club.
Given that neither player gave any indication that they would sign a new deal at any point of the window, common sense would dictate that the players be sold early in the window while there is time to bring in reinforcements.
Outgoings seem to be the more prevalent than signings in the closing hours of the transfer window, with Shkodran Mustafi likely to join Inter Milan despite their huge defensive issues.
Arsenal have started seasons poorly in previous years and eventually rescued the situation in the past, but the loss of Sanchez and Oxlade-Chamberlain suggests this ship is sinking at an unprecedented level.