Arsenal seem to find themselves embroiled in a transfer saga every other season. Whether it’s Samir Nasri joining Manchester City because they have “more passionate fans” or Robin van Persie “listening to the little boy” inside him by signing on the dotted line for Manchester United, there is always uncertainty engulfing the Emirates.
The Gunners have been mocked for turning into a feeder club for their Premier League rivals and now it appears that Alexis Sanchez is the latest star to swap the red side of north London for Manchester.
“He [Sanchez] is being vague at the moment,” said Arsene Wenger before Arsenal’s latest disappointing defeat against Bournemouth on Sunday.
“His situation is not completely decided one way or the other, so I left him at home."
When asked whether a move was imminent, Wenger replied: "Yes. Don't read too much into it, because even I don't know really what way it will go."
This latest saga has manifested itself onto the pitch and Wenger currently proceeds over a winless 2018 which shows no sign of ending.
This miserable run continued at Dean Court as the home side recovered to falling behind to a Hector Bellerin goal to win 2-1 thanks to strikes from Callum Wilson and Jordan Ibe inside the last 20 minutes.
This result means that Arsenal have picked up just 13 points in 12 Premier League away games this season - their worst record in 12 years - and now find themselves well off the pace for a Champions League finish.
While Chilean star Sanchez deliberates over joining champions-elect City or Jose Mourinho’s United, an under fire Wenger is tasked with finding the ingredients to secure a top four finish in the Premier League without the player who scored 30 goals and made 17 more last season.
Uncertainty clouded Arsenal’s 2016-17 campaign with Wenger refusing to reveal whether he would be signing a contract extension or leaving the club after two decades in charge.
The Gunners boss admitted post-season that the uncertainty over his own future affected the players psychologically and there’s no doubt that the same applies for the current Sanchez situation that the club find themselves in.
Mesut Ozil, who looks set to decide his future at the end of the season, also sees his contract expire in the summer as does Jack Wilshere – a player who admitted before Sunday’s match that he wants to be Arsenal captain.
Yet Arsenal’s problems lie deeper than one of their best players leaving. The defence couldn’t look more vulnerable and - having conceded eight goals in four games - it is no surprise to see Wenger entering the market for an experienced central defender in the form of West Brom’s Jonny Evans. Wenger remains in talks for 20-year-old Bordeaux starlet Malcolm but questions remain over whether the Brazilian winger will be able to provide an immediate impact in place of Sanchez.
Alexandre Lacazette’s superb start to the season has seen him burnt out. He was ill against Chelsea in the Carabao Cup and hasn’t looked like the clinical marksman Arsenal paid a record £50.2 million for last summer. His lack of movement through the middle and tendency to play with his back to goal give the Gunners nowhere to go in the final third. Wilshere meanwhile, is Arsenal’s best player by far when Ozil isn’t on the pitch and remains the main creative hub alongside Aaron Ramsey, who came on as a late substitute on Sunday.
While Wenger served the final game of his three-match touchline ban the questions will continue over whether it was the right decision for the Frenchman to sign a contract extension last May.
With few signs that Champions League football will be on the table next term and their talismanic forward about to leave and strengthen a rival, the Arsenal manager has a big decision to make over whether he’s the right man to lead Arsenal forward. Alexis on the other hand, has seen his decision to leave the club justified.