Alexis Sanchez wants to leave Arsenal - here's how they could line-up without him

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Sign of the future: Arsenal need to plan for life without Alexis Sanchez (Getty).

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.

DREAM SCENARIO

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.

REALISTIC

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.

ALTERNATIVE

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.

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Man United and Man City target Alexis Sanchez hints at Arsenal exit - "I want to play in the Champions League"

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Alexis Sanchez

Alexis Sanchez wanting to leave Arsenal this summer is one of the first kept secrets in football at the moment.

The 28-year-old has excelled in the last two seasons since signing for the Gunners from Barcelona and is primed for one more big move at this stage of his career.

The Chilean has been the topic of much interest from several European clubs this summer but Arsenal have unsurprisingly been reluctant to sell their talisman.

However, with just one year left on his contract, the Premier League outfit risk losing him on a free next year.

“I want to play in the Champions League. The decision isn’t down to me, I need to wait for Arsenal,” Sanchez said speaking in an interview in Chile on Saturday.

“The idea is to play and win the Champions League. I’ve dreamt about it since I was a kid.”

Arsenal, having failed to finish in the top four last season will be playing in the Europa League instead.

The timing of Sanchez’s quotes is curious as well as just earlier on Saturday Wenger revealed he had “positive” talks with Sanchez via text.

“Of course (he will stay),” Wenger said.

“There is not a lot to resolve with the player. I have spoken through text and it was very positive. My thoughts are always positive.”

While Wenger remains optimistic about keeping Sanchez in north London, the Chilean’s latest quotes suggest his heart is set on a move.

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Five interesting facts about Chelsea's £40m signing Tiemoue Bakayoko

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Chelsea have announced the signing of midfielder Tiemoue Bakayoko from Monaco.

The 22-year-old, who played a leading role in Monaco’s run to the Champions League semi-finals last season has signed a five-year contract at Stamford Bridge.

The France international has reportedly cost the Blues around £40million.

Here are five interesting facts about the French midfielder.

BAKAYOKO HEADER HUMBLES CITY

When Manchester City arrive at Stamford Bridge on the last day of September they will be only too aware of the damage Bakayoko is capable of wreaking.

Back in March his superb header 13 minutes from time condemned Pep Guardiola’s City to a painful Champions League last-16 exit on away goals. City arrived in the Principality in control of the tie after a 5-3 first-leg win.

And with 19 minutes to go they were 6-5 in front, only for Bakayoko to turn home Thomas Lemar’s free-kick to give Monaco a famous victory. “It’s an immense joy to score in the Champions League. I didn’t expect this,” he said.

Tiemoue Bakayoko (L) scores vs Manchester City

Tiemoue Bakayoko (L) scores vs Manchester City

DESCHAMPS IS A FAN

France coach Didier Deschamps is a fully paid up member of the Bakayoko appreciation society.

The 1998 World Cup winning captain knows a thing or two about the ingredients that go into making a great player.

When he summoned Bakayoko for his first cap a week after his key role in dumping City out of Europe Deschamps said: “He’s powerful, makes an impact, scores decisive goals, makes goals and is a great all-rounder.”

France's coach Didier Deschamps speaks highly of Bakayoko

France’s coach Didier Deschamps speaks highly of Bakayoko

THE MAN BEHIND THE MASK

Of all the qualities he will need in the Premier League, toughness is right up there with the rest of them, and Bakayoko certainly has that.

He broke his nose in training in the run up to Monaco’s Champions League semi-final first leg against Juventus, but didn’t let that deter him from starting against the Italians, wearing a special protective face mask that lent him the air of a Marvel superhero.

Surgery on a problem knee could see him missing out on Chelsea’s pre-season schedule. He overcame a lengthy spell sidelined with a broken leg as a youngster, before joining Rennes aged 13 in 2008, then his breakthrough move to Monaco in 2014.

The Masked Midfielder

The Masked Midfielder

FROM PINK TO BLACK

Bakayoko makes an impression, both on and off the pitch. An imposing 1.84m he is no shrinking violet when it comes to his appearance, dying his hair pink one day, blonde the next.

When he arrived in Monaco in 2014 he could be seen emerging from the fates of a luxury villa behind the wheel of a pink Porsche Cayenne. But after a sea change in attitude, triggered by his former youth coach at Rennes, he swapped the villa for a more modest apartment, and got the Cayenne resprayed black.

He explained: “They were saying that I loved the nice things in life, that I wasn’t a grafter, that I’d come (to Monaco) only for a higher salary, which wasn’t the case.”

Bakayoko (R) sports pink hair

Bakayoko (R) sports pink hair

WHAT’S IN A NUMBER?

Bakayoko sported the number 14 on his jersey at Monaco.

He chose it in tribute to the 14th arrondisement (district) in Paris where he was born to Ivorian parents on August 17 1994, and will wear the same number for Chelsea.

No.14

No.14

Provided by AFP

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