COMING TO TERMS WITH THE INEVITABLE DEPARTURE OF ALEXIS SANCHEZ by Uche
Listening to Arsenal fans debate the way we should handle Alexis Sanchez’s reluctance to renew his contract, one would think that we are the only factors that will determine his future. Unfortunately, we are one of only two main factors. The other key factor is the player himself. Let me ask you a question. When your beautiful wife hands you divorce papers explaining that she has her heart set on marrying a more ambitious man whom she finds more appealing, what exactly are your options? That is a difficult one isn’t it? You can refuse to sign the documents but in doing so, you are only prolonging the inevitable. Even if she continues to share a bed with you, deep down, you know that she is gone and is possibly having an affair already. You see, you cannot force someone to love you and if you have never been in a relationship where the person you love does not love you back, believe me, you are better off single.
From all indications, Alexis Sanchez has his heart set on pursuing his footballing ambitions elsewhere. If his intentions were vague before, he just clarified it in his recent response to questions by reporters in his home country during a charity event. He says he wants to play champions league football and win it. Now analyze that statement carefully and you will understand how difficult it will be for us to keep this guy. First, we are not playing champions league football and even if we qualify by the end of next season, we don’t have what it takes to win it. So on those two counts, he has masterfully eliminated Arsenal from the equation. Now if it is also true that he is demanding 400,000 pounds a week when the best players in the world like Messi and Ronaldo don’t even earn up to that, that is a further third hurdle he has set for us to ensure that we don’t stand a chance of keeping him.
And there is more. Not only does Sanchez not want to play for us anymore, he is bent on moving to our rivals Manchester City. For that reason alone, there is a meanness to his desire to leave that tells me it is best we get rid of him, restructure our team and move on. John Terry dropped down to the championship and signed for Aston Villa just so that he never ever gets to play against Chelsea, the club of his life. That is love folks. The way Sanchez feels about us is the complete opposite. From the news out there, we have offered him as much as 300,000 pounds a week to renew his contract and he still wants out. As far as I know, nobody in the EPL earns that kind of money. So you cannot blame Arsenal for not trying. As it stands, here are our options:
1. We keep him against his will until his contract expires in 2018. At first, this seems like the best idea because we finally get to hold our heads high as a big club and claim that we stopped a big player from dragging us around. Unfortunately, in doing so, we are only postponing the inevitable. If he does not renew his contract, by January of 2018, he is legally permitted to sign for any club of his choice on a free transfer and trust me, he will sign for an EPL rival. The news of this alone is enough to wreck the new season yet again. In keeping him against his will, we also risk being inflicted with his temper tantrums. He has already given us a preview of how destabilizing he can be with last season’s drama. We need to read the writing on the wall. His stay at Arsenal has come to an end.
2. Option two is to sell him to a team outside the Premier league and replace him with Thomas Lemar, whom I understand is an Arsenal player already and will only be announced as soon as Monaco finds his replacement. We may be able to get as much as 50 million pounds for Sanchez in this scenario and this seems to be the best of the bad choices we are left with.
3. Sell him to his preferred Manchester City and squeeze them for every dime we can get while possibly demanding Sergio Aguero as part of the deal. There will be no pleasing Arsenal fans in this scenario because we don’t want to sell him to a rival especially with what happened in the case of Robin Van Persie and the fact that we have dropped out of the Champions league.
Personally, I will take option two. It is the best of the bad options. Make no mistake about it, Alexis Sanchez is a ticking time bomb. He does not love Arsenal the way you and I do and you cannot force that kind of love. We have thrown money at him and said all the right things and he still wants out. We have signed two top players with more on the way and he still wants out. Sanchez is just an Arsenal employee who is here today and will be gone tomorrow. We on the other hand are lifelong fans who aren’t going anywhere. Sanchez has played his last game for Arsenal as a willing participant. His heart is no longer with us. We have to let him go. We may never find a player like him again but perhaps we don’t need to. With a front three of Lemar, Ozil and Lacazzette and with Xhaka and Ramsey behind them, we can restructure our game and goal sharing responsibilities and move on. As good as Alexis was last season, we finished in fifth position. Arsenal will survive without him. We need to let him go and support the players we have.
Lagos – Nigeria