Alexis Sanchez has stated his desire to play in the Champions League and says he is waiting for Arsenal to make a decision over his future.
The 28-year-old Chile striker appears to have informed Arsenal what he wants to do with a year left on his current deal and with the Gunners two-decade run in the Champions League now at an end, it is clear Sanchez cannot achieve his ambition with them next season.
With no agreement reached over a new deal, a list of potential suitors is likely to be long and could include Manchester City.
Our two expert football writers debate as to whether or not Sanchez should place his trust in Arsene Wenger and stay at Arsenal or leave the club this summer.
Should he stay or should he go?
YES – MATT MONAGHAN
A desire to pursue Champions League football is natural for a player of Alexis Sanchez’s supreme talents.
Yet compelling and financially-lucrative reasons to stick about at Emirates Stadium are not hard to find. They could yet see the man retained who notched 24 goals and 10 assists in the Premier League last term.
Next season will be the Gunners’ first outside Europe’s top competition since 1996/97. But this has not stopped manager Arsene Wenger from exhibiting genuine ambition.
France striker Alexandre Lacazette has arrived from Lyon after a campaign which featured 37 goals in 45 appearances. Intriguingly for Sanchez, this is a player who does not just exhibit his intelligence in his ability to sniff out chances.
He is a technically gifted and aware star for whom the nippy Sanchez would love playing alongside.
A joie de vivre – enjoyment of life – has returned to Wenger’s planning. With Monaco creator Thomas Lemar another target, the Gunners attack will be heaven for a forward.
Lemar and resident Germany playmaker Mesut Ozil contributed a combined 19 league assists last term. With such a productive supply line, there is every chance the prolific Sanchez would thrive even more.
This is all part of a change in Wenger. For a veteran chastised for his intransigence, April’s shock switch to a 3-4-2-1 formation both earned silverware with the FA Cup and sparked belief 2017/18 could see a genuine title charge mounted for the first time in a decade.
For all the ambition and extravagance exhibited at likely suitors Manchester City, there is still no guarantee of such success there.
The wisest decision for Sanchez is to see out the final year of his contract and assess his options.
At worst, the £50 million (Dh240.4m) transfer fee demanded this summer would end up in his account as a signing-on gift for a valuable free agent. Not bad recompense for wise restraint.
Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil during a training session
NO – CHRIS BAILEY
Since Arsenal left Highbury for the Emirates 11 years ago they have been stuck within a vicious case of deja vu: attractive football encased in fragility, a title challenge that fizzles out soon after the New Year, and their big stars before long getting thoroughly sick of it all.
That pattern is unlikely to be broken next season, and as much as a strong Arsenal side is to the benefit of the Premier League, Alexis Sanchez cannot afford to hang around in hope while in his prime.
He turns 29 in December and while he is still as sprightly as any forward in the league, he could live to regret battling through another mediocre season – relatively speaking – under Arsene Wenger’s watch.
And it’s not as if there is overwhelming evidence of a turnaround on the horizon. Arsenal have a very proud recent history in the FA Cup, of course, but the world’s oldest cup competition is sadly not the accolade it once was.
Ask any Gunners fan – their jubilation over winning the fabled tournament may have been genuine, but there has been a fair amount of teeth-gnashing over the summer when contemplating a season without Champions League football.
Signing Alexandre Lacazette – and whomever may follow – could prove to be like moving a few steps forward on a treadmill.
Manchester United have splurged on Romelu Lukaku and Manchester City were willing to shell out mega money on Kyle Walker. Neither have Chelsea nor Liverpool been thrifty, and while a Tottenham fan may view their club’s inaction this summer as worrying, they have a young core who finished second and can reasonably expect to get better.
Indeed, fifth to first would be a monumental leap even if Arsenal’s title rivals had stood still.
Pep Guardiola’s first season with City was disappointing, but Sanchez would surely be right to place trust in a serial title-winner – and now money-spender – over a manager who has always favoured style points above all else.
Pep Guardiola embraces Alexis Sanchez last season