Arsenal fans jeered Alexis Sanchez when he came on during the Gunners’ 3-0 victory over Bournemouth on Saturday in response to the Chilean’s attempts to leave the club. Sanchez was desperate to join Man City and link up once more with Pep Guardiola, who managed him during a trophy-laden tenure at Barcelona. Arsenal waivered but ultimately refused to sanction the deal as they could not secure Thomas Lemar as a replacement. Sanchez is now being held against his will at the Emirates, which begs the question: will he go the way of Luis Suarez of Riyad Mahrez?
Arsenal thought they had pulled off a real coup by triggering Suarez’s release clause of £40,000,0001 in the summer of 2013. The Uruguayan wanted to join the Gunners and threatened to go on strike if Liverpool refused him permission to speak to them. But Liverpool played a high stakes game of poker and cast doubt on the release clause, while privately they worked a charm offensive on Suarez. Steven Gerrard persuaded him to give the Reds one more year and secure a move to an even bigger club. Suarez consented, banged in 31 goals and got them within inches of winning the title. Arsenal finished third and Liverpool were second, but the Gunners would surely have won the title with Suarez in the side as he was in sensational form that season. He earned a move to Barcelona, where he went on to win the Champions League, while Liverpool earned £65 million, a £25 million premium on what Arsenal were offering the previous summer.
That is an example of a club making the correct decision in holding onto a player that wanted to leave, and Sir Alex Ferguson keeping hold of Cristiano Ronaldo for one more season at Man Utd before allowing him to join Real Madrid is another. But there are plenty of situations that turned sour, which brings us on to Mahrez. The Algerian was named Player of the Year in 2015/16 as his dynamism and trickery inspired Leicester City to the most improbable league title victory in history. He wanted to leave on a high but Leicester – reeling from losing N’Golo Kante to Chelsea – forced him to stay. He was underwhelming last season and Leicester were threatened with relegation, a run of form that cost Claudio Ranieri his job. Mahrez tried again to engineer a move away from the King Power this summer but unsurprisingly he did not generate much interest and the Foxes are stuck with an under-performing star whose motivation levels are questionable.
Arsenal are currently standing at 22/1 odds to win premier league, if you are looking to place action review 5Dimes and begin your research. They are playing an even riskier game because Sanchez has just a year left on his contract and will surely leave for free next summer and move to the Etihad on a huge contract. They have turned their backs on a £55 million transfer fee and have a furious player. But Sanchez could well go down the same path as Suarez, and there are several reasons for that. First, it is a World Cup year and he will want to impress Juan Antonio Pizzi. He is virtually guaranteed a place in Chile’s starting 11, but if he spends the season moping on the sidelines that is less certain. Secondly, he will want to impress Guardiola, who has an abundance of attacking riches at his disposal and can splash out huge sums in the transfer market. Thirdly, he hates taking it easy and always defies orders to rest, preferring instead to spring up hills. This is a player that throws a tantrum when taken off for a rest when his team is 4-0 up. He would not be happy seething among the substitutes, and when he is on the pitch he effort is never in question. Arsenal need him to fire them back into the top four and if he does the riches they will earn from Champions League qualification will outweigh any lost transfer fees. If he repeats his form from last season, the boo boys will soon change their tune too.