28th June 2017. By Ryan Baldi.
With just one year remaining on his contract and high on the wish list of several of Europe’s biggest clubs, Alexis Sánchez is unlikely to still be an Arsenal player by the start of the 2017-18 season.
The former Barcelona forward was the Gunners’ outstanding performer last season, netting 24 Premier League goals and returning a career high total of 30 in 51 all-competitions games, including a crucial strike in the North London side’s FA Cup final victory over champions Chelsea.
Sánchez was the shining light in an otherwise disappointing season for Arsenal which saw them fail to qualify for the Champions League for the first time in two decades. Currently on international duty with Chile at the Confederations Cup in Russia, the 28-year-old attacker is set to resolve his future upon his return, with all signs pointing towards an exit from the Emirates Stadium.
Arsenal would love to hold onto their star man and have reportedly offered him a contract which would make him the highest paid player in the club’s history. But if Sánchez does indeed opt to leave the Gunners, his decision will be based on more than money alone: he will want to join a side who are able to compete for major honours domestically and in Europe.
Here are 5 possible destinations for Alexis Sánchez.
Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich are thought to be leading the race for Sánchez’s signature, with box-to-box midfield powerhouse Arturo Vidal making no bones of his desire to link up with his international colleague at club level.
Moving to the Allianz Arena would certainly offer Sánchez the chance to compete for medals, with the Bavarian giants having won the German title five years in a row and regularly a feature of the Champions League’s latter stages.
Indeed, Bayern thrashed the Gunners 10-2 on aggregate in the last 16 of Europe’s premier club competition last season, with the Arsenal No.7 visibly venting his frustration at his side’s collapse.
Tactically, Sánchez would be a great fit for Carlo Ancelotti’s side as he would provide an alternative to the ageing duo of Arjen Robben and Franck Ribéry on the flanks while also giving the Italian coach a viable option to deputise for star striker Robert Lewandowski centrally.
Pep Guardiola is thought to be a keen admirer of Sánchez and Manchester City, despite their wealth of attacking options, are weighing up a big-money move to snatch the Chilean from their Premier League rivals.
With his ability to play centrally as a false nine, on either wing or as a No.10, Sánchez would be a diverse and valuable weapon for Guardiola.
The Catalan tactician, who signed the Arsenal man for Barcelona from Udinese in 2011, appears not to fully trust Argentinian striker Sergio Agüero to lead the line. Sánchez, with his mobility, propensity for dropping off the frontline and unselfishness is a much closer fit to the kind of centre-forward the former Bayern coach prefers to operate with.
The one main advantage that City hold over Bayern when it comes to convincing Sánchez to sign for them is that, with the current riches on offer in the Premier League, they may be more willing to pay the kind of wages that the in-demand forward would expect.
City and Bayern are certainly the two most likely destinations for Sánchez, but a move to Real Madrid cannot be totally discounted. Los Blancos are intent on acquiring 18-year-old sensation Kylian Mbappé from Monaco in what could be a world record deal. But if the French champions remain resolute in their desire to hang on to the gifted young forward, Zinédine Zidane and, more importantly, president Florentino Pérez may be forced to look elsewhere.
Furthermore, Cristiano Ronaldo’s reported discontent could see the European champions in need of a superstar signing to replace the Portuguese if he intends to follow through on his threat to leave the club.
Where Mbappé would need time to settle, Sánchez, at the peak of his powers and having already played in Spain earlier in his career, could hit the ground running.
Having learned of Ronaldo’s displeasure at his current situation in Madrid, Paris Saint-Germain are reportedly willing to do whatever it takes to lure the four-time Ballon d’Or winner to the Parc des Princes.
But the most likely outcome remains that the Portuguese superstar will stay at the Santiago Bernabéu, meaning PSG will be left to seek an alternative superstar arrival if that is what they desire.
Step forward Sánchez. The Arsenal man fits the profile of the world class, ready-made star who could come straight into the Parisian’s starting line-up and instantly improve their hopes of not only wrestling their Ligue 1 title back from the grasp of Monaco, but also cracking the Champions League.
However, although money will be no object, it is unlikely that Sánchez would opt for PSG over Bayern or City. The German side offer almost guaranteed success, while City can provide the chance for the Chilean to reunite with Guardiola and join an exciting and upwardly mobile project.
If a wildcard option is required, Manchester United could be a sound fit for Sánchez. There has not yet been any indication that the Red Devils’ intend to enter the race for the 28-year-old attacker, but there is no doubt that he would perfectly suit José Mourinho’s side.
In addition to his vast skillset — his dynamism, pace, creativity and flair — Sánchez works incredibly hard, a trait that the Portuguese coach prizes above almost any other.
Furthermore, Mourinho appears to be unconvinced of Anthony Martial’s ability to carry out his instructions on the left flank. With recent reports that Arsenal are considering a £40million bid for the 21-year-old Frenchman, United might be tempted to enquire about Sánchez’s availability and willingness to move to Old Trafford.
It’s very much an outside bet, but the idea of Sánchez making the same move that Robin van Persie made in the summer of 2012 makes more than a little sense.