When it comes to this summer’s transfer window, it’s a safe bet Arsenal fans will be more than just fairly miffed if Arsene Wenger fails to bring in a world-class forward.
Naturally it’s a feat which is far easier said than done, and supporters do tend to forget that in real life such deals are considerably more difficult to navigate than they are on Football Manager, but anyone who says the Frenchman isn’t treading on thin ice with regards to his transfer window productivity is simply not paying attention to detail.
With Mesut Ozil being the only landmark purchase of the past few years there’s a considerable amount of frustration to be banished from the Emirates, and Wenger would be wise to ensure that he targets players who he stands a genuine chance of getting as opposed to wasting his time in the pursuit of a dream capture.
If you ask me, Barcelona’s Alexis Sanchez falls into the first of those two categories. The 25-year-old is not only a very good player, but he’s also a safe bet to be included in the supposed ‘deadwood’ which finds itself floating out of the Nou Camp in the form of their revamp. The general consensus is that he is to be flogged as the Catalan giants aim to breathe life back into the decaying body of their formerly all-conquering side. If Arsenal don’t at least fight until the bitter end to land him, there’s serious questions to be asked.
Said to be locked in a two-horse race with Serie A giants Juventus, who also harbour a strong intent to secure his signature, you get the feeling that the ball is in Wenger’s court. Reports from the Italian media suggest that Juve feel so threatened by the Gunners position in the race that they are ready to offer nine million quid more than they had planned in an effort to throw Wenger and co. off the scent.
Newspaper Tutto Sport claims that Antonio Conte is now preparing to submit a proposal worth €25million, despite the fact that the Turin club don’t value Sanchez at anymore than €16million. If that is indeed the case then Wenger now has but two options. He can either positively move forward and test Barca’s resolve with a bid of his own, or steer down his more favoured route of dropping off and attempting to find a cheaper alternative.
Whereas in the past, particularly when the north London outfit were under pressure to conduct business on a shoestring budget, the more reasonable option may have been to scour Europe until an player deemed an adequate alternative to Sanchez was found, this summer there must be no hesitation.
From where I stand the Gunners currently sit a cross-roads that they haven’t been at for a good while. With one key acquisition they could significantly increase their chances of competing for major honours next season and, dare I say it, perhaps win the league.
Their plethora of talent in midfield has set them up perfectly, and adding a renowned goal threat could bridge the gap between themselves and the likes of Liverpool, Manchester City and Chelsea.
In Sanchez they have a transfer target who is not only a proven goalscorer at the highest level, but yet another top La Liga talent who would bring a sense of optimism to the Emirates. He's not just versatile enough to give Wenger a multitude of options in terms of how he structures his attacking assets, he’s also got the pace and guile to give any back line trouble when he’s on song.
With the best will in the world Arsenal aren’t going to be able to compete for the likes of Edinson Cavani and Diego Costa if their biggest Premier League rivals are serious about taking them elsewhere. They don’t have the money, nor the pulling power to sustain a lengthy chase which threatens to leave them short-handed without time to bring someone in at the end of the summer.
However a €25million pursuit for an established international who was nothing short of sensational in the absence of Lionel Messi this season is something that Wenger can commit himself to. It may not be an easy ride, but Arsenal can offer an insight into their true ambitions by fighting tooth and nail to tempt Sanchez to England instead of Italy.