Yesterday the protracted saga of Alexis Sanchez leaving the Arsenal – which let’s not forget has gone on for essentially a year since it became clear he wasn’t interested in signing a new deal – was concluded and I for one am glad that the ‘saga’ in itself is over.
And in return Arsenal went into a risk mitigation strategy in bringing in a player who can occupy a similar situation to Alexis in the team, thus meaning that we will at least have a replacement made up and there won’t be some cat and mouse chase for another player of another team, as they resist Arsenal’s advances to get top dollar, whilst Arsenal chase around before paying over-the-odds for somebody.
Think last summer and Thomas Lemar. Good player, would have fitted in the team, a prospect, but certainly not worth anywhere near the £90million that was quoted by Monaco.
So in the cold light of day and now the Mkhitaryan transfer is done you have to say that we should be happy that the club has at least readdressed the issue of losing a player by bringing in another one in which we hope can rediscover his Dortmund form, which I witnessed in the flesh a few years ago when they came to the Emirates.
That night I remember Mkhitaryan was the best player on the pitch and I hadn’t heard of him until that point. I was expecting to see how good Lewandowski and Kagawa were, but it was Mkhitaryan’s movement and drive that impressed me. That’s what we have to hope we’re going to see when he trots out onto the pitch as an Arsenal player.
But we can’t completely avoid the elephant in the room, which is the man going the other way to Manchester, Alexis Sanchez. From an individual point of view there’s no doubt that United have got the better player of the two. Alexis has pedigree in the league, scores more goals, individually is a Maverick and has proven time and time again that he can win matches on his own.
If you look at the two players from an individual ‘pound for pound’ approach then you have to say that Alexis is better. And that is where we then come to the complete mess that has been his contract saga. Last summer right at the beginning the club will have known his intentions. They will have known he wasn’t going to sign and they will have known that we would need to plan for life without Alexis.
Yet they sat on their hands. And I can say that now because what unfolded – the deadline day blinkfest and the transfer yesterday – shows that those in charge simply weren’t capable of remaining steadfast in their views. They didn’t make the most sensible decision – a decision I was hoping they would make from May last year – and offload him abroad for maximum cash.
The result has seen a ‘rival’ strengthened with our best player. No amount of fan revisionism on Alexis can stop any of us from realising that we have lost a good player who got us out of jail and club officials at Arsenal need to have a long, hard, look at why this happened. I’d love to say “and make sure it never happens again” but it appears that not learning lessons is a thing that runs throughout the club and not just in the playing staff, because van Persie is what feels like an almost carbon copy of what we’ve just done with Alexis.
Now, having said all of that and quite frankly I’m still a little miffed by the whole situation, what I will say is that some positive can still come out of this situation. It’s no secret that Alexis was a lone wolf. He did things on his own and when you have a player like that in a team game then it can be disruptive. Whilst we have history when it comes to transfer sagas, we also have history when it comes to other players blossoming out of somebodies shadow.
When Henry left it was Adebayor that stepped up.
When Adebayor left van Persie managed to avoid injury for a season and a half.
When van Persie left we had the trio of Poldi, Giroud and Santi.
So we ow need another individual, or collective of individuals, to fill the void. And that’s where Mkhitaryan may be vital to us. He will be a team player. He will be a better link to the team than Alexis and the sometimes disjointed nature of our attacking play may now have a little more flow to it with another creator.
We can see this Arsenal team improve by – from an individualistic perspective – downgrading a personality and replacing that with a better team player.
And that has to be the hope for all Arsenal fans this morning and moving forward. We have to hope that the team can click and it starts tomorrow with Chelski at home and then needs to continue on Tuesday with Swansea away.
It’s time this Arsenal squad picked itself up and went on a run. They owe it to us.
Hopefully we can also see another man come in and with Ivan and Sven still in Germany, you have to hope that it’s Aubameyang that they’ll come back with.
We shall wait and see.
Catch you all tomorrow.