Arsene Wenger has once again maintained that Arsenal will not sell Alexis Sanchez, either to Man City or Manchester United, unless they manage to bring in an adequate replacement.
So, being the diligent transfer-shamans we are here at Pies, we thought we’d seize the chance to take a little butcher’s at a tensome of possible candidates who could effortlessly slip into the Chilean’s brawny wake.
Malcom: Seems to be Arsenal’s preferred choice so we’ll start with him. Malcom (only one ‘L’) is a 20-year-old Brazilian winger, reminiscent of Douglas Costa, who is currently playing a starring role in a sub-par Bordeaux team. He’s also in the process of learning to speak English, though whether that’s got anything to do with the price of fish remains to be seen.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang: Recently signed a new one-year contract extension at Borussia Dortmund thus ring-fencing his transfer value somewhat. Pies can’t envisage Arsenal dropping the vast wad required, even though the prospect of a Lacazette-Aubameyang front pairing with Mesut Ozil in behind is incredibly enticing.
Riyad Mahrez: Hardly like-for-like, but Mahrez is certainly primed to take the next leap. In the last four years, the Leicester City string-puller has won the Premier League title, played in the Champions League, played in a World Cup, won PFA Player of the Year and been named African Footballer of the Year.
Of all the candidates, we’d wager that Mahrez ending up at the Emirates come February is the most likely, perhaps to the tune of £30million-odd.
Thomas Lemar: Monaco are obviously holding on for silly money for Lemar, having reportedly already spurned a ludicrous £92million offer from Arsenal as the summer transfer window wicked away. At that kind of price, nothing is going to happen.
Nabil Fekir: Making a name for himself at Lyon this season with 13 goals and one hilarious suspension to his name. The 24-year-old France international is coming of age and has been mentioned in passing with Arsenal a few times of late. That said, if the OL fans riot when he scores, imagine what they’ll do if he leaves.
Cristian Pavon: Ah, the prodigious Boca Juniors wild card that everybody is pretending to know all about all of a sudden. The 21-year-old, who recently made his debut for Argentina, has a £27million release clause. Whether he’s worth that or not, nobody this side of the Atlantic ocean *really* knows.
Thomas Muller: Having slipped ever so slightly in terms of repute at his boyhood club, prising the Bundesliga’s foremost Raumdeuter from Bayern Munich might not be as improbable as it would have been a few years ago. However, in Danny Welbeck, Arsenal are already covered in the ‘decent players who sometimes look like they’re playing in clogs’ department.
Wilfried Zaha: Perhaps a little too haphazard for Wenger’s tastes, you can’t argue that Zaha makes things happen for Crystal Palace. In fact, the Eagles routinely look hopelessly helpless as and when he’s not on the pitch. Arsenal could do worse, put it that way.
Daniel Sturridge: If – and granted that’s a whopper of an ‘if’ – Arsenal could snag Studge on the cheap, then he may be worth a gamble. However, interminable fitness issues, fundamental overvaluation and inhibiting wage demands (£150,000-a-week) will likely nip any nascent interest in the bud.
Alexis Sanchez: Wenger believes that there’s still a chance he can coax his Chilean renegade into a change of heart. He can’t – Sanchez’s mind is quite obviously and firmly already made up – but it’d be nice if the good version of Alexis popped his head above the parapet a couple of times in an Arsenal shirt before he skedaddles into the waiting bosom of Pep Guardiola.
Any thoughts, Pies/Arsenal fans? Given that Sanchez is as good as gone, who would be your ideal candidate to replace him?