Mesut Ozil, Alexis Sanchez: The situation and what Arsenal need to do...
When they first arrived at Arsenal, in 2013 and 2014 respectively, they were taken as the rightful heirs to the thrones in the mould of Robin van Persie, Thierry Henry and Dennis Bergkamp. Fast forward another 4-5 seasons and some Arsenal fans cannot wait to get rid of them. I am of course talking about Mesut Özil and Alexis Sanchez, but why do some fans want them gone and is it justified?
When they first got to the Emirates, their performances up and down the length and breadth of the pitch were being lauded left right and centre but as of late people seem to think the two players are "sulking" or "becoming invisible" and not doing their jobs properly. What I find interesting about these accusations by a section of the Gooner fanbase is that they've come when the Media make comments about them after a game to antagonise, or an opposing fanbase speaks out and trolls the Arsenal fans because they know just how fickle we as a base, can be. And yet when you actually analyse their performances since arriving and said accusations the complete opposite rings true, with Alexis Sanchez becoming sixth top scorer in the league during his debut season and third top in the last season as well as second top combined Goal/Assist creator which was when most of these stories occurred, whilst Mesut Özil was the assist King in Europe in all competitions up until the second part of the 2015/16 season and most likely would still be if his chances created (100 for Arsenal last season alone in the league) were actually converted by the forwards.
During Christmas 2015, talks between the club and both players had begun on extensions, with verbal agreements with all parties looking very good for the future, but from the latter stages in the 15/16 season and the first portion of the 16/17 season, things went a little quiet. Arsène Wenger had his own contract situation going on in the second part of the 2016/17 season which saw the club halt talks with both players despite the fans believing that it was indeed Mesut, Alexis and their representatives who were the ones refusing to speak (thanks to the Press of course.) The most recent talks are that Özil's agent is close to coming to an agreement with Arsenal whereas Alexis' situation isn't looking clear in the slightest, however with this in mind there is always still a chance the club could lose them both.
Are Sanchez and Ozil going to leave Arsenal?
There were a lot of stories in the Media last summer regarding Alexis specifically, about potential suitors for his services. Most notably were Manchester City with the Chilean Media claiming he was "devastated" when a move to the Etihad failed to materalise on deadline day. However this story was in fact shot down by Arturo Vidal and several other Chilean players who said Alexis was absolutely fine about no move materialising and was focused on Arsenal. In fact, other than Press stories there was never really any proof that this move was even viable or held any truth. Other stories included Bayern Munich and PSG. Where Özil was concerned a lot of opposition fans mocked Arsenal over Social Media claiming no club actually wanted him and this spread as far as some of the more undesirable "big Arsenal accounts" also, when in fact the same clubs vying for talks with Alexis (PSG, Bayern etc) were also interested in Mesut. Manchester United have also been credited with big interest in Arsenal's German playmaker, however once again all of these stories can only be attributed to the Press and there is no evidence that either player wants to go, nor that any club is trying to sign either.
Now with all that being said it is still a case in point and a simple fact that neither player has extended with Arsenal and we are almost at the mid-season stage of the January transfer window where they can start talking to overseas clubs such as the aforementioned Paris St. Germain or Bayern Munich, however the Manchester clubs would have to wait until summer, so what would Arsenal's best move be? Most would say now to sell them in January for £30m a piece and start replacing and rebuilding whilst others would say to keep hold of them until the end of the season, use them to our advantage for the season and then allow them to leave. The only problem with the latter option is running the risk of them either discussing a Bosman agreement with an overseas club or losing them for free to a Premier League rival, which confuses me because I'm not sure how an Arsenal fan can call either player rubbish and yet worry they may sign for a rival surely you'd be happy for another club to inherit our trash?
Who could Arsenal replace their stars with?
The other question that arises with the potential sales/releases of Mesut Özil and Alexis Sanchez is, who do we replace them with? Well considering most think they're not doing all that great anyway I think the list of successors would be pretty good, wouldn't you? To be honest it actually isn't that bad and even some of those who still defend either man could see they're not indispensable with those possible signings. Monaco's Thomas Lemar was a player Arsenal were linked with throughout the entire summer transfer window and almost signed on two occasions throughout the summer including on Deadline Day, thought initially to be a replacement for Alexis but now being touted as the replacement for Özil. Julian Draxler is another name on the list, thought to be less than happy with his current situation at PSG what with the signings of Neymar and Mbappe and a keen admirer of Arsenal, he is another who could fill the void left on the wing or in the Attacking-Mid position. Lyon's Nabil Fekir would also be an ideal replacement either for Alexis or Özil in the LF/RF positions or on either wing if the squad went back to four at the back. Emil Forsberg of RB Leipzig in the Bundesliga is another player Arsenal were previously linked with who would slot seamlessly into the squad, either on the left side or at CAM and most currently the club are being linked with a possible move for Crystal Palace's Wilfried Zaha, a young player who Arsenal were linked with a year or two ago before his failed move to United. All five of these players have the talent and ability as well as experience on both domestic and European stages to fill gaps left by such charismatic and creative entites such as Mesut Özil and Alexis Sanchez.
What next for Arsenal?
Whatever happens I think it's safe to say, Arsenal need to replace and do so adequately. Fans aren't too happy with either man at this point in time, whether justifiably or not and I feel any of the previously mentioned players would go a long way to settling the situation, appeasing the mob and quite possibly sending us back on our way in the direction we are supposed to be going. As for what I believe will happen, it's tough because on one hand I can see Özil extending for quite some time but I can definitely see Alexis going and sooner rather than later but these are just my thoughts. Realistically I wouldn't be surprised if both men went in January and Arsenal were left picking up the pieces come July and mounting some massively overproportionate attempt at reconciling the situation on August 31st.