IN the wake of Arsène Wenger’s contract extension and the board’s ambition to still compete at the top level, thus not in the Champions League, the complex situation surrounding Alexis’ future emerges as expected.
Alexis, the first man on the team sheet, has as we all know only one year left in his contract as the speculations for his potential departure has intensified in the last couple of weeks. However, I’m here to argue that new contract or not, it would be a spectacular mistake to sell, and our valuation of him should still be set at “irreplaceable.”
Fortunately, Wenger has said earlier that he will keep both Alexis and Özil to the end of their contracts, with our without a new signature. Spectacularly wise from the Boss.
Think about it:
If Alexis wants to leave and we sell him for, lets say, 45 million. Surely we would have to replace him? But without Champions League, getting anyone near Alexis’ capabilities is implausible at best. So it’s more likely we’d buy someone good, not great, for about 30 million. Now we’ve profited only 15 million on selling our best player, and in my opinion taken a big step back from recovering a Champions League spot next season, let alone fighting for any trophies.
If we do keep him, even against his will, because of his extremely determined personality and his somewhat egotistical ability to play as if he is his own team, I’m sure he would not abandon his principals and hunger for success. A winner such as Alexis might track back a few times less, but will always be hungry to score as many goals, and win as many matches as possible. And it will be far easier to find a more suitable replacement for him if we regain a Champions League spot as well.
My concern is that if Alexis makes it clear he wants to leave, and the offers come flying in, Wenger might be honest enough to grant that wish, even though he has said he wouldn’t. It’s one thing to big tough with the media, another to reject someone’s desperate wish face-to-face.
The worst case scenario is if negotiations with Alexis drag out through the summer, he eventually leaves in August, and we have to replace him last minute. In such a predicament, there surely is no point in selling him?
Money should not be an issue in the upcoming talks about a contract renewal. Alexis holds most of the bargaining chips, and arguing over money we can afford will only elicit avoidable risk and possible regret. Especially since we should make up some money through our superfluous squad, which we should reduce without replacements, but more about that in the next post.
The dramatic, but truthful, line to take from this is: “In the name of ambition you cannot sell your most important player.” Even if he leaves for free in a year. Arsenal took a step backwards this season, however, one season out of the Champions League isn’t financially nor reputably devastating. Concerning the ambition Wenger and the Arsenal board constantly speak about – winning domestic trophies as well as European ones – we cannot afford to take anymore steps backwards though.
In my admittedly biased opinion, Alexis is one of the top five best forwards in the world, easily. Maybe third behind Messi and Ronaldo. Keeping him at Arsenal should be on top of Wenger and the board’s agenda this summer, and at any price.
In a few days I will consider the entire Arsenal squad and give a complete assessment of it, answering who should stay and who should not. As well as where to strengthen.
Stay tuned on the blog or add me on Twitter (KentAndersenn) for updates.