In any walk of life, retaining your prized assets ranks pretty high in terms of importance. Those things that are treasured above all else and clasped to our chests tightly in order to stave off leering suitors.
They are ours, they are our precious……
Apologies for the lame ‘Lord of the Rings’ reference, but the image of Smeagol and his ugly visage contorted with vicious desire does lend itself handily to this subject matter. The more we want something, the more things get very ugly.
We may have plenty of treasures and things of value in our possession, but there are always a select few that take pride of place. This can be down to monetary value or even just sentimental value, but these choice items lord it above all else.
The players in our football team have all performed numerous times and in crunch fixtures. Some have gone above and beyond the normal levels and are synonymous with certain golden-hued moments in our memory. The majority all have our respect (at varying times anyway) but there are some men that stand on a different plain.
Step forward Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil.
These two marked the watershed moment, transitioning from ugly duckling football club with a cash deficiency, into powerhouse club who sign established world class superstars. Money was no object, we just made it rain.
Mesut Ozil is still our record purchase. The fact that REAL MADRID and CRISTIANO RONALDO lamented his departure only made the fact we had him at Arsenal oh so sweeter. His record amount of assists last season, his touch like an Estate Agent’s promise. Ozil is refined like the escorts who don’t need to place cards in a phone box.
Alexis Sanchez is pure fire. Goals, explosive trickery, unadulterated danger. The Chilean is victory embodied in a tanned, diminutive South American. He is also directly responsible for nearly half of all the goals we have scored this season, either via scoring it himself or setting it up. His dismay when situations on the pitch go awry is tantamount to a toddler tantrum, but dependant on your standpoint, it is also evidence we actually have a winner in our team.
Now, we stand on the precipice of failure. Not only do our perennial shadow-dwelling neighbours tottenham look to have built a team that will finally break the hold we have had over them for over two decades – we also appear to have slipped sufficiently that our normally reserved place at the top table in Europe is in danger of being taken.
Of course, many snort derisively when a place in the Top4 is mentioned. We may have had this on lockdown for a while, but it should not be made a target. This is completely correct, but it is at least worthy of our radar. It needs to be our basic requirement from every season. Such is the importance the top players place on the Champions League, if we abstain involuntarily from the competition, our chances of continuing to recruit the cream of the crop will be hampered significantly.
As well as keeping hold of what we have.
We are fully aware of the ticking down of Alexis’s and Mesut’s contracts. Next season will be the last year which they are contractually obliged to play for us, but this summer is when both will be looking at potential new clubs and weighing up their options.
Alexis looks increasingly likely to depart. He will have no shortage of takers as well, and tying him up to another contract looks like an impossible task.
Mesut could well stay or go. In truth, we have no idea what will happen as we are not lucky enough to be able to peer behind the veil, but there is a large chance we could be without both when we line up for the 2017/18 season.
We would increase our odds if we could promise them Champions League football, but even if we miraculously won that golden ticket for another year, would our top talent agree to stay?
If both decide to opt for pastures new, then we would be bereft of some incredible talent. Skills that would be at home in the best sides in the world. We would of course be stronger with them in our side.
We will still carry on though. We will still have a football club that we will still adore.
We have been a selling club before. The difference between this and now is that we needed to sell our shiniest baubles to stay afloat. Now we are selling merely because the players in question want to leave. We do not need to sell, but what is worse;
Needing to sell or being unable to keep top players?
Ozil and Alexis are not bigger than the club. We have had players who produce far more than they do on their best day, and we will again.
What we need are players willing to work hard for the club. We want players who want to be at the club.
If they want to leave – especially when we need them the most – then we shouldn’t shed a tear over them. It just means they were never true Gunners, they were mere mercenaries.
Dan is the editor of TheHotStepanovs & is a regular columnist for ArsenalMania. You can follow him on Twitter here!