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“I remember today, a conversation I had with [Thierry] Henry, a historic Arsenal player, who changed clubs for the same reason, and today, it’s my turn,” wrote the new Manchester United star Alexis Sanchez on Instagram, as he bid adieu to Arsenal.
The message was clear: he feels he wasn’t a part of the problem at Arsenal.
In fact, many have accused him of creating a different problem altogether when the club have been dealing with a plethora themselves. His farewell post, though, seemed to be tailor-made to suppress any potential hatred he may receive for joining a rival club after slacking for half a season, while essentially adding fuel to the thought that the club lacks direction.
When Thierry Henry left the Gunners, their near future was uncertain, as they looked ill-equipped to challenge for the trophies he’d already lifted with them.
At 29 years of age, with none of the Invincible regulars still at the club and the club adopting a different approach to stay at the top in the wake of constructing a new stadium, it was evident that he needed to be at a club whose goal was to win trophies the following season and not when their potential world-class talents matured.
The message Sanchez looked to convey, perhaps, was better delivered by the man who previously moved to Old Trafford from Arsenal, and that man was right on the money.
When Robin van Persie questioned Arsenal’s direction, the club, in fact, looked a headless chicken. They had flogged Fabregas, Samir Nasri and Gael Clichy without lining up proper replacements, brought back Henry and Jens Lehmann during different crises and brought the likes of Andre Santos and Park Chu-Young for insurmountable sums of money. He essentially vindicated his decision by lifting the title under Alex Ferguson.
The current landscape, however, is completely different, with Arsenal, whom United haven’t finished above in three seasons, making all the right noises, the kind of noise the Arsenal fans have been clamouring for since Van Persie’s departure. One may claim Arsenal are as stable and ambitious as Sanchez’s new club.
Arsenal have been slated for stagnating or even regressing under their seemingly outdated manager in Arsene Wenger. However, with Sven Mislintat, a fabled transfer expert who has been credited with unearthing special talents like Moussa Dembele, and soon-to-be former Barcelona director of football Raul Sanllehi coming in, one assumes that Arsenal are making more progressive moves than many give them credit for.
Their impact has been immediate, as the newcomers have been reported to have played significant roles in identifying Konstantinos Mavropanos, engineering the Sanchez-Henrikh Mkhitaryan swap and potentially signing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang. Many insiders even murmur that Luis Enrique, a manager most Arsenal fans approve of, is being actively pursued by Sanllehi, who’ll join Arsenal as the head of football relations next month.
The influx of football masterminds only allows the club to segue to the post-Wenger era, without the hassles that United went through after the departure of Ferguson.
The club, having now become open to spending big on transfers and paying deserving players six-figure wages on top of preparing for life without the manager whose personality is ingrained in their identity, are definitely moving in the right direction. The performance and results, however, aren’t showing, but the potential for success is there for everyone to see.
Success in the Premier League is uncertain, with almost every club now boasting the pulling power of the European heavyweight clubs, but Arsenal now look equipped to attain just that. One may even assert they’ll be more equipped than United next season.
Written by Praveen Paramasivam
Follow Praveen on Twitter @PraveenR_P
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