5 Players Arsenal must hold onto next summer
Many Arsenal players are being linked with moves away from the Emirates. Who must Wenger keep hold of next summer?
Sat in the Clock-End on a bitterly cold Wednesday night in North London, I oversaw my beloved Arsenal tear Huddersfield Town limb-from-limb. It was by no means the most spectacular drubbing from start-to-finish, nor was it against the best the Premier League has to offer, but nonetheless, the 5-0 victory proved thought-provoking.
Throughout the ninety minutes, the Gunners controlled possession, soaked up pressure and, albeit some way into the second half, proved clinical in front of goal. Looking on at the team fielded by Wenger that night, I thought to myself that the Frenchman may have finally cultivated a first eleven genuinely capable of challenging for the title.
Nacho Monreal has improved massively in defence this season, whilst Granit Xhaka and Aaron Ramsey have developed a sound understanding of one-another in midfield. The frontline is simply formidable and, if it were not for the slightly too frequent displays of complacency, this team could achieve remarkable things.
With this vein of thought though came a sense of cynicism; how many of these players would be here next season? Each week that we draw closer to the January transfer window, more rumours of Arsenal stars departing emerge and Wenger will likely have a job on his hand attempting to persuade his contingent to stay put, if the club don't qualify for the Champions League this campaign.
Here is a look at five players in particular who Arsenal must hold onto next summer...
1# Alexis Sanchez
Where better to start than with the man who almost became the latest in a long line of former-Arsenal players to switch red for blue and join Manchester City. The Chilean's expected £60 million deadline-day move to the Citizens never materialised and Arsene Wenger has since claimed, according to SkySports News, that Sanchez (and Özil for that matter) will stay put until the end of the season.
The Frenchman responded to the question of whether Sanchez would be an Arsenal player on February 1st by saying, "Yes, of course. That is what we said many times." Wenger continued, "at the moment I think, as long as they are here, they have to give their best for the team and for the club... in my head, they stay until the end of the season."
Since signing for the Gunners from Barcelona in 2014, Sanchez has scored 57 goals in 114 games for the club and is arguably the stand-out star in the team at present.
The statistics do not lie; Sanchez gives Arsenal a real fear-factor they would arguably otherwise not have without him in their ranks. The Chilean is world-class pedigree with experience at the very top level with Barcelona and the Gunners. Few players are more industrious or more determined off the ball and even fewer are as creative and dynamic on it.
As challenging as it will likely be to keep hold of the key forward, to allow Sanchez to depart would symbolise a step-back. He's one of the only world-class figures in the Arsenal contingent and replacing him would not be an easy task.