The (Un)Importance of Alexis Sanchez – Not an Arsenal Great and Unlikely to Become One

It seems that today the word “legend” gets thrown around freely by fans. It is understandable, to an extent. Fans are emotionally invested in their team, and its players. It’s easy enough to get the supporters teary-eyed and mellow when an exciting forward comes along and has a couple of great seasons in front of goal. And suddenly the forwards is nearing legendary status in the eyes of some.

I’ve noticed this trend a while back. A trend, which, in my opinion, contributes to the devaluation of the word “legend”, as it completely ignores the individual’s motives for joining the club or staying with it.

By this point you’ve probably grasped where I am going with this (besides the headline being a dead give-away!) But actually, it’s not just Alexis Sanchez that comes to mind as I type these words. It’s our other star attacker too, Mesut Ozil.

Two recent incidents made me tip over on the issue. First was a banner by one of Chile’s fans during the Confederations Cup which read “Stay with Arsenal, Alexis, and you’ll become a legend”. The second concerned Mesut Ozil, and it was a rather innocuous tweet, stating Ozil will become a legend if he extends, if he isn’t one already. I can’t argue with the first part of that statement, I’m not a clairvoyant. The second part of it I strongly disagree with. Let’s start with the German.

Why Mesut Ozil isn’t an Arsenal great for me, and is unlikely to become one

The notion of a player qualifying for the legendary status because he spent his prime years with the club, or because he stayed for a certain period of time is absurd.

Is Theo Walcott a legend for you? He meets both criteria listed above, yet no one calls him a legend. Moreover, he recently passed the 100-goal mark, which many lauded as an unbelievable achievement. He stayed on for 11 years, same as Bergkamp, however I see no one use the pair in the same sentence. So why does Mesut Ozil qualify with just 4 years of Arsenal football under his belt?

The German is a unique player alright. He is a player we need, around whom our game and set-up is built (rightly or wrongly) and we’ll miss his creative influence if and when he leaves. But calling him a legend?

You might regard me as conservative (not a popular word nowadays), however for me legendary status stems from living and breathing Arsenal. If that’s too wide a definition which looks like dodging an answer, I’ll specify: legendary is a player who cares for the good of the Club more than he does for his own.

Ozil doesn’t strike as that type of person. I have no doubt he loves London, he admires Arsene Wenger (who was the major reason the German joined) and … that he’s comfortable at Arsenal. But no more than that. He’ll likely extend his current deal, though not out of his love for Arsenal if you ask me. He will because no top club is really interested in buying him, otherwise we would be having a situation with him akin to that of Sanchez. A summer of speculation. And speaking of Sanchez…

Why Alexis Sanchez is not an Arsenal great for me, and is unlikely to become one

In a word, because he is selfish. On the pitch and off it. If you wanted me to describe him, I would say “a gun for hire”. Pun intended. A mercenary.

He has no love or loyalty for the Club, however much we want to believe the opposite. At least with Ozil we know he generally likes Arsenal. I’m not sure Alexis has any bond whatsoever to the Gunners, and that’s why I don’t have a bond to him.

He is a great player, that’s not in dispute. If the Chilean leaves, our first order of business would be to replace the goals and assists he takes with him. Albeit it can be argued we did that by sealing the deal for Lacazette. However I’m not so sure on that front. Lacazette’s arrival likely means a departure further up from where Alexis is playing. Either Giroud or Walcott if I had to guess, with Lucas already a dead man walking.

Back to Sanchez, and there are other things I have to mention in this mini-profile. Like his tendency to lose the ball (a lot), his weak link up with other teammates (barring Ozil, and maybe Walcott) and his overall hunt for personal glory. We know at least Ramsey hates the Chilean’s guts, and I doubt the Welshman is alone in that.

Sanchez’ not-so-befriending traits extend to off-pitch behavior too. I’m sure he has a working relationship with Arsene Wenger, but I still remember the training ground bust-up in March and the saga with his possible transfer this summer is here to stay. I doubt Sanchez is a positive influence in the dressing room or at London Colney and his current extortion campaign amounts to nothing more than taking care of himself.

If he stays, it will either be because we will flat out refuse to sell and let the contract run out, or because we match the offer from the potential buyers. Of course he will say all the right things if he extends, but I don’t for a second believe Alexis has the team’s, or Club’s, best interests at heart. He won’t be the one to put himself in the same bracket as the rest of the team.

I have a friend whose stance on Alexis Sanchez is radical, however she made a good case for why that is. In short, she’d sell Sanchez in a heartbeat to just get rid of his ego on and off the field. And to end the team’s reliance on him, as well as to bring balance to the side. Sanchez, for all his output, wants the biggest piece of pie for himself.

You want to tell me he deserves a legendary status after all this? I’d nominate Kieran Gibbs for that before I nominate Sanchez.

Closing comments

My initial intention for this article was somewhat simpler. I just wanted to tell that, for me, there is a difference between Alexis leaving (if he does) and, say, Thierry Henry. I was devastated when the Frenchman left and it was a very simple thing he did to deserve my respect: he stayed after the Paris loss.

He showed that he cared. Not only did he give us his best years, became top scorer and captain, but he showed genuine affection for the Gunners. Years after the Frenchman left Arsenal, he talked about how much he hated walking down Nou Camp tunnel, simply because there was a picture of Barcelona players celebrating the 2006 CL final win.

I can’t imagine Alexis or Ozil saying something like this, and not only because we don’t look anywhere near ready to reach the CL’s final. As much as I can’t imagine either making a sacrifice for the Club because they put its interests above their own. Maybe less so with the German, but you get the idea.

So stop putting them onto a pedestal. They haven’t done nearly enough to warrant special treatment, despite what their agents might have you believe.


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16 Responses to The (Un)Importance of Alexis Sanchez – Not an Arsenal Great and Unlikely to Become One

  1. Sid Pereira July 10, 2017 at 8:08 am #

    I agree 100%. I think Sanchez and his agent always viewed Arsenal as a stepping stone and never intended to stay beyond 3 or 4 seasons. He has no affection for the club.

  2. Chris K July 10, 2017 at 8:27 am #

    Yep. Totally agree. Nicely written.

  3. Danny Richards July 10, 2017 at 8:34 am #

    What other ambitions club is happy to sell their star player? Nonsense article.

    • Egunner July 10, 2017 at 8:09 pm #

      That wasn’t the point of the article. Football is a team sport. You either agree with the writer or you don’t. By the way it’s ‘ambitious’ not ‘ambition’.

  4. Dom July 10, 2017 at 8:47 am #

    uhmm yes, I agree with a great deal of your thoughts on Alexis but frankly, I would put his attitude down to total disappointment and disillusion with certain of his team mates’ commitment to the team. Alexis is a hard worker…whether he loses the ball a lot or not, he doesn’t down tools…which is not an attribute that is shared by the likes of Ozil,,Ramsey et al.
    Sure he’s messing us about now, so let’s send a message out to the players’ agents and managers in the industry…by keeping him and making him work out his contract.

  5. Font July 10, 2017 at 9:25 am #

    A friend does the make up for the players on there photo shoots, she said Sanchez arrived with his entourage with his people pushing the artists and saying out the way alexis is here.
    With this attitude it would not be surprise if all the rest of the squad wanted him to leave.
    Arsenal play team football Alexis is not a team player.

    • Dave Seager July 10, 2017 at 9:37 am #

      Very Interesting

  6. Jesper van Hest July 10, 2017 at 10:40 am #

    Nice perspective but I dont really care about the legendary status of single players, I want Arsenal to be successful. Alexis is our star player and not everyone on a team has to be friends. You think Lehmann had many friends in the team? An ambitious squad wants a guy like Alexis on their team. I can see Alexis frustration with the lack of quality in some positions, this guy may be an annoying man, but one hell of a player, fine with me.

    Why do we slate the board for not being ambitious but turn on our stars if they leave because of that same reason?

    • Alex July 10, 2017 at 3:30 pm #

      Because the Board will stay with us to make us successful. Players bear direct responsibility for what happens on the pitch. Yet if they are willing to jump ship, they are aiding their personal ambition, not serving one of the Club

  7. FunGunner July 10, 2017 at 10:42 am #

    Well said and well expressed. My heart is with your friend on Alexis, but my head says we have to have a replacement lined up first.

    And I wholeheartedly agree – legendary status isn’t earned just by longevity or talent. In fact, I would say you don’t have to be a really good player. But you do have to have done something special for the club. Neither Ozil nor Alexis are legends.

  8. Samson July 10, 2017 at 11:37 am #

    Do you remember guys, Alexis has been a bench warmer when he was in Barca and no body needed him then, except the talent maker Arsene Wenger,. After coming to arsenal, he become like one of the prolific attackers in the EPL, and then, rather than playing his football with disciplibe and commitment, instead , he began judging his coleagues by busting ups on the pitch and training sessions. That is a typical character of people which get
    success once in life. Then began to play bossy-bossy games. As a Gooner, I believe that being an Arsenal fun or player is a way of expressing yourself to a family members with respect and compassion. I understand that even family members conflict each other but mostly out of positive final outcomes, not to show how they are superior to others.
    Therefore, I think Arsenal doesn’t have place for such players with selfish and rabish personality that doesn’t have the patience
    and character to stay integrated with the whole team, what ever storm or calmness is at hand. Alexis is an opportunistic person who tries to payback to such wonderful club and fans with unfairly and Arsenal is not a place for such opportunists. Last advice to AW, just let him go, but please do keep OZIL, because at least he likes the team, the fans and the cause of Arsenal.
    But, Alexis will make further damages if he stays in Arsenal because selfish people does not resist their negative behaviours in success of others like Lacazete.
    Finally, one note that Arsenal did not miss Champions league tournament in the last 20-years, except when people like Alexis…come to the team. This tells us that Arsenal’s success depends on the hard work of the team; not on individual inefficient running in the pitch.

  9. Uncle Mike July 10, 2017 at 12:06 pm #

    This lady friend of yours who wants Alexis gone because of his ego… Is she married? Because I think I’m in love.

    • Alex Baguzin July 10, 2017 at 3:39 pm #

      She is not, your path is clear!

    • Marble Halls TV July 11, 2017 at 12:50 am #

      we got it when Alexis was there in 14/15 and 15/16. until last season, how many serious challengers did we have for top four? not many, so it was comfortable.

  10. Marble Halls TV July 11, 2017 at 12:49 am #

    Vieira edged for a move for a few years before he left. Wright handed in a transfer request in 1996. Adams used to come to training drunk, as did Merson. We’ve had legends before who have done questionable things.

    I agree Ozil is not a legend, not yet. But Alexis’s drive and guile as up there with the very best in our history, like Henry, Wright, Bergkamp, etc. For me at the least, he is a legend of our club. He’s also not the first legend to leave when his stock was high. Brady did, or Ronaldo at United, or Bale at Spurs. Sometimes players need better fits, and in Alexis’s case it’s a club with a winning mentality.

  11. ezgunner July 11, 2017 at 2:16 am #

    So true..the club is better off him

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