Manchester City’s deadline day attempts to sign Alexis Sanchez were always doomed to fail, just as Arsenal and Arsene Wenger had wanted.
The Blues were left with less than 24 hours to complete the signing of a player away on international duty, all the while depending on Arsenal securing the signing of Thomas Lemar; who was in action for France that very day.
With that being said, Sanchez remains a serious target for Manchester City and it is difficult to imagine the Chilean forward not ending up at the Etihad Stadium, be that in January or the summer.
Pep Guardiola’s charges are well positioned for a Premier League title charge and the addition of Sanchez in the winter would make them even stronger.
One of the hallmarks of Arsene Wenger’s time in charge at Arsenal has been his ability to forcefully deny any rumours regarding the departures of his players. In the early years of his time in charge, he was often proved correct as Patrick Vieira would repeatedly turn down offers from abroad in order to stay at Highbury.
Later it was Thierry Henry, however with the move to the Emirates Stadium came an entirely different economic landscape for the club. Whilst Wenger was still eager for his players to stay and he expected them to, his rather public admissions of such would then be made to look rather silly when said player would in fact leave the club in that same transfer period.
This is what made his staunch assertions that Alexis Sanchez would not be leaving the North London club in the summer carry such little weight, everybody simply expected Arsenal to fold and sell eventually.
When the deal didn’t happen it was a major surprise, not only did it hand the Gunners two of their stronger individuals players for the coming campaign, but it also allowed them precious further time to discuss new contracts with both Mesut Ozil and Sanchez.
Unfortunately for Arsenal, things haven’t changed on the pitch. Ozil is still struggling to contribute in a team that doesn’t play to his strengths whilst Sanchez looks hugely disinterested.
Neither has any inclination to sign new contracts at the Emirates Stadium and this has prompted a change in tact from the club with regards to selling the pair, as illustrated by Arsene Wenger’s recent comments to BeIN Sports when asked if either would be sold in January.
“We’ll have to think about that, we will have to see where we stand with them at the end of December,” he explained.
This is a significant departure from the previous insistence that neither would be sold. Manchester United retain a slight interest in the German midfielder although are unlikely to pursue any deal that isn’t a Bosman transfer, however if City are given encouragement on the former Barcelona forward, it is likely they will move.
Arsenal have been given no sign by either party that a contract renewal is likely. With it almost certain that both will leave for nothing anyway, it is now seen as a fiscal must to ensure the club receives some money for them players in January.
As far as replacements go, Nabil Fekir is at the top of the club’s list following his quite sensational start to the Ligue 1 season. Wenger would like to recreate the partnership between Lacazette and Fekir that thrived for so long at Olympique Lyon.
The French forward is far more mobile than Ozil and would likely fit into Arsenal’s style in a much clearer manner. Negotiating a deal in January would be challenging, although Lyon could be persuaded with the right deal.
With regards to negotiating from a position of strength, Arsenal does not have that any more. There will be no swap deal with the Blues and the Manchester club can all but name their price, especially if the Arsenal board is intent on receiving some form of transfer fee for Sanchez.
It remains to be seen how negotiations play out, but it is clear that Arsenal are under no illusions about Sanchez and Ozil penning new deals and have changed their stance accordingly. It could well be a busier transfer window than usual at the Emirates Stadium in January.
Written by Chris Winterburn
Follow Chris on Twitter @cmwinterburn
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