No matter how many times Arsene Wenger reiterated his intention of not selling Alexis Sanchez this summer, the truth is that the Chilean is expected to leave the Emirates in the next few weeks, more than ever. With World Cup coming up next, Sanchez will want to give his best this season and having already stated his willingness to play in the Champions League, Arsenal is not the best place for him next season.
Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain have made no secret of their interest in landing the forward, but Arsenal are highly unlikely to sell him to a direct rival in the league. It leaves the Ligue 1 giants as the only feasible option for Arsenal and it would be suitable for them too, as the multi-millionaire side will be more than ready to meet Arsenal’s £80 million asking price for their superstar.
Despite enduring a nightmarish season in England last term, the Gunners did manage to end it on a high with an FA Cup win over league winners Chelsea. But, that doesn’t seem enough to stop Sanchez from leaving and Arsenal’s prolonged pursuit of Thomas Lemar pretty much confirms it. However, Arsenal’s new-found success in a three-man defence formation leaves very little room for wingers to perform effectively.
A like for like replacement for Sanchez is difficult to find, and what Wenger is essentially doing is finding players with a similar impact on the squad. And the Frenchman has two decent options in Ross Barkley and Riyad Mahrez to fill that left attacking role.
Sanchez’s sale is bound to fetch the Gunners a hefty sum and they could easily afford either of them with that price, which leaves Wenger with choosing a more effective option.
Both the Algerian as well as the English international remain extremely versatile in the attacking third, which makes it all the more difficult for Wenger to pick. However, if attacking attributes is taken into consideration, they both fare very differently in that attacking third. While Mahrez relies on his tricks and turns and sublime finishing, Barkley is more of the aggressive kind, who imposes his physicality and pace more in drilling his way in.
And as far as Arsenal’s vacant position is concerned, Mahrez would be better suitable for playing the one-two with Mesut Ozil behind the likes of Olivier Giroud, Danny Welbeck or Alexandre Lacazette. Though he is three years older than Barkley, his skill set remains more polished and his key passes would attract Wenger more.
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