According to varying newspaper reports, Arsenal is extremely interested in signing Barcelona forward Alexis Sanchez. While the Chile international is coming off of a very strong 2013-14 season with Barcelona, scoring 19 La Liga goals and providing 10 league assists, the Catalan team is said to be willing to part with the superstar during this summer’s transfer market.
Although the Gunners are not the only club reportedly interested in Sanchez (Juventus, Liverpool, and Manchester United have also been linked), Arsenal’s manager Arsene Wenger has allegedly met with Sanchez’s agent in a “secret meeting” prior to one of Chile’s World Cup matches in Brazil.
While there is little doubt over Sanchez’s skill, the question is how well the 25-year-old would fit into the current Arsenal side. During his time at Barcelona, Sanchez was normally deployed on the right wing. Even though the Gunners already have a solid option at right winger (England international Theo Walcott), Arsenal had problems with squad depth when injuries set in this past season.
Sanchez could also slide over to the left wing in Arsenal’s attack, as there is seemingly a hole in that position for the north London club. Santi Cazorla and Lukas Podolski usually featured on the left wing for the Gunners last season; however, there has been doubt raised over both players’ future with Arsenal.
Nonetheless, even if both Cazorla and Podolski both stayed with the Gunners, a potential addition of Sanchez would help ease any squad depth issues the north London side had up front. Cazorla is one of the more versatile players in the Premier League, as he can play on either the left or the right wing, or even through the middle in the number 10 role. Podolski can also be used as a central striker (the Germany international’s favored position).
Another option for Arsenal if they were to sign Sanchez is to deploy the fleet-footed attacker up front, playing off of Olivier Giroud. Although Giroud receives criticism from some Arsenal fans for poor finishing, the 6’4” center forward possesses outstanding vision and passing abilities. A potential combination of Giroud and Sanchez up front would surely make any Gooner salivate.
Any decision on Sanchez could very well hinge on Wenger making a choice to move for the Chile international or Mario Balotelli. Balotelli has also been linked with Arsenal over the last few weeks, with both parties reportedly keen on a move. While Gunner fans would surely not complain if their beloved team was to get either Balotelli or Sanchez, it seems unlikely that Wenger will bring both stars to the Emirates.
Sanchez will reportedly cost the Gunners around $34 million, while Balotelli could cost $10-$12 million more.