Arsenal are “confident” of securing the signature of Barcelona and Chile winger Alexis Sánchez for $51 million, according to reports. Barça have reportedly accepted the bid for Sánchez, which would make the player the second biggest signing in Arsenal’s history. Last season, the London club paid Real Madrid $72 million for the services of Mesut Özil.
Sánchez has been courted by a host of clubs, including Liverpool, who asked for the player to be part of the deal that could see Luis Suárez go in the other direction. However, it has been reported that Sánchez would prefer not to join Liverpool if he leaves the Catalan giants and so his fellow South American may go to the Catalan giants in a cash only deal worth around $120 million.
Although Sánchez would be a massive signing for the Gunners, their main target has been a striker as manager Arsène Wenger only has Olivier Giroud and Yana Sanogo at his disposal. The Chilean is expected to land in London shortly to complete the transfer. The player, who has reportedly turned down Italian giants Juventus and AC Milan, is expected to get a significant rise on his current $128,000-a-week salary. Barça are preparing for life after Sánchez by giving the confident Uruguayan his number nine shirt.
Sánchez stood out in this summer’s World Cup in Brazil, where he netted two goals in four matches. If his international form was not enough, he scored an impressive 21 goals for his club last season. Many believe his $51 million price tag is a bargain. Wenger is keen to increase the potency of his attack along with adding pace to it. The fact Sánchez can move across the forward line suggests the Frenchman is keen to land a player who is capable of more than one thing.
Despite a good start to last season – Arsenal led the Premier League into 2014 – the Gunners relied too much on Giroud. They also missed the pace of Englishman Theo Walcott, who suffered from injury. Wenger also needs to focus on his defense as captain Thomas Vermaelen is on the brink of completing a big money move to Manchester United. One such player on Wenger’s shopping list is Newcastle United’s French defender Mathieu Debuchy, who is expected to join the Gunners before the end of the week.
The 2014/2015 marks a big turnaround for Wenger, who, for the past eight seasons, started a Premier League campaign without a trophy. This time he will lead his troops out with the FA Cup victory last May behind him. While Arsenal may appear to be a long way off from winning the Premier League title, Gunners fans will be expecting their side to still be in with a shout come the New Year.
Wenger has already made a statement of intent by trying to lure Sánchez to the Emirates Stadium and his signature will only appease Arsenal fans. Whether or not the Chilean will make the difference on his own is a moot point, but the general consensus is $51 million is a steal for a player of Sánchez’s ability – and Wenger can be confident he is about to sign a top player.
Commentary by Robert Shepherd