On The Left Side

Arsene Wenger has unexpectedly found himself as the curly moustached ringmaster of this summers Transfer Cirus.

This, more than any other, is the season of big spending and Wenger is certainly not the man who I expected to be taking up the column inches on the back pages of many tabloid papers. The Arsenal managers usual Transfer Window tactic involves hiding under a table until it all goes away but this season has been different.

The vast quantities of cash now pumping around the Premier League are the kind of numbers that would make Donald Trump blush so I guess it’s no surprise that Wenger has taken the rare decision to stick his hand in his pocket and actually buy some players. What is surprising is that it’s not the players on their way in that are grabbing the headlines.

For months running up to the end of last season much of the debate amongst Arsenal fans was as to whether Alexis Sanchez would be walking his beloved dogs in the leafy parks of North London next season and, for the moment at least, that future still looks unclear.

There have however been promising signs that the Chilliean will be playing his football at the Emirates next season, and I don’t just mean when Manchester City roll into town.

It is the Blues, along with Bayern Munich and Chelsea, that have reportedly shown the most interest in the Arsenal forward, and by interest, I mean sending him Snap-Chat stories of the club chairman rolling around naked on piles of money (probably). Like many football stories nowadays this one revolves around money. It would take a gargantuan amount of cash to take Sanchez away from the Emirates.

Not only is there the small matter of his wage demands, rumoured to be around £350,000 a week but there is also the transfer fee. Arsenal would no doubt expect a sizable return on the (just under) £32million they paid out for Sanchez, a player who scored 30 and assisted 15 goals last season. In the current market that works out as more money than Joey Barton has placed spent in his local bookies over the last 10 years. Even if he is in the final year of his contract.

That is just one of the reasons some hopeful Gunners have convinced themselves that their star man will stay currently no one can afford him.

There are other glimmers of light being held aloft too for the Arsenal faithful. Nailed on signs that Sanchez won’t be upping sticks and moving on yet.

For one, he appeared in the club photo shoot for their new kit. A sure sign he’s staying, right? Nothing to do with the players commercial value and flogging a few shirts. The club wouldn’t be so cynical.

For two, he says he wants Champions Leagues football. Sure, that currently isn’t on offer with Arsenal but if he just wants to PLAY in the Champions League then that’s where the club excel. Stick it out at the Emirates and he is guaranteed Champions League football, right up until they come up against Bayern Munich in the last 16. If he’s said he wanted to WIN the Champions League then he’d have to look elsewhere.

Finally, and most prominently Wenger says that he’s going nowhere.

Nothing there really inspires confidence, does it? Even Wenger’s guarantees that fans who buy a new Arsenal kit with Sanchez 10 on the back won’t be disappointed come the new season have little weight. Wenger has a history here and it doesn’t bode well.

In 2012 he said something very similar before Robin Van Prese upped sticks and moved to Manchester. It was a similar story for Emmanuel Adebayor when he moved to City. Then once again in 2011, the manager said the potential departure of Cesc Fabregas and Samir Nasri would be “The worst situation” and would prove the club lacked ambition. Can you guess what happened next?

Either Wenger doesn’t have the level of control at Arsenal that many, including himself, believe or Arsenal repeatedly and historically fails to match the ambitions of its star players.

But this time it’s going to be different.

He has made it clear that he has no intention of letting Sanchez go and is even prepared to allow the Chilean to walk away on a free. He is also clearly putting in the leg work in persuading Sanchez to stay. Talking up the clubs ambitions and even sending his star man encouraging text messages on holiday to convince him to stay (which I imagine is similar to the text messages I get from my Grandma… ALL IN CAPITAL LETTERS).

Sanchez staying at Arsenal is important for Wenger and the fans faith in his leadership but it’s just as important for the football club. If the Gunners truly have ambitions that match those of their fans and players this time they have to show it.

Personally, I’d love him to stay/ I’d love Arsenal to be mixing it with the big boys around the Top 4 next season and Sanchez is key to that… but man, just imagine Arsenal Fan TV if he DOES leave!


If you like football and you own ears then check out Jim’s alternative football podcast, On The Left Side. You can listen to the latest show and check out their back catalogue below.