Arsenal on Saturday received the news they had been dreading as Alexis Sanchez, a sole source of inspiration for much of last season, piled on the pressure by revealing his desperation to play in the Champions League.
The 28-year-old’s comments to Chilean media would have been welcomed by suitors such as Manchester City, who can now offer a platform in Europe’s premier club competition during 2017/18 which the Gunners cannot.
With the possibility growing that Arsene Wenger will be without the electric forward who scored 24 goals and registered 10 assists in 38 Premier League games last term, here we look at the manager’s attacking options next term as he plans for life without him.
Even without being able to offer Champions League-football, Wenger has shown ambition with his transfer targets.
If he is able to perform a miracle and snap up both playmaker Thomas Lemar and teenage sensation Kylian Mbappe from Monaco, a tweaked 3-4-3 formation would offer goals galore.
To also facilitate Alexandre Lacazette, a club-record £46.5 million (Dh223.6 million) buy from Lyon, Germany playmaker Mesut Ozil could drop back into the three-man centre midfield.
This set-up would place enormous defensive responsibility on the likes of Granit Xhaka and Aaron Ramsey in the middle. But it would be a joy to behold.
Wenger has already vowed to stick with the 3-4-2-1 which delivered the FA Cup after its utilisation in April.
With Real Madrid heading the chasing pack for Mbappe, the chances are slim that the 18-year-old will be running out at Emirates Stadium next term. Yet the same cannot be said for Lemar, despite Monaco’s current intransigence about another sale.
A signing which has gone under the radar for the Gunners is powerful Bosnia-Herzegovina defender Sead Kolasinac. A tally of three goals and five assists last term in the Bundesliga for a struggling Schalke 04 hints at his promise.
A return to the stellar form of 2015/16 would also be most welcome for rampaging Spain right wing-back Hector Bellerin.
It is always good to have options during a hectic season, and there will come times for Arsenal to go more direct.
A change to the 4-2-3-1 which was enacted for much of last term could add purpose and penetration.
If France striker Olivier Giroud is retained, he can provide an excellent centre point for those around him. In the three behind him, England attacker Danny Welbeck and Lacazette would add a significant goal threat as inverted wingers.
The emphasis would fall on Ozil to supply the bullets, a role he has no problem performing.
One clear downside to this shape comes in the guise of Xhaka. The Switzerland midfielder, belatedly, blossomed when a change was made to 3-4-2-1 towards the end of a frustrating debut campaign.