Paul Merson thinks it is almost “inevitable” that Alexis Sanchez quits Arsenal to join rivals Chelsea, blaming an underlying “arrogance” at the Emirates.
The Chilean is yet to sign a new contract at the club and with just 14 months remaining on his deal, reports suggest the player has already been approached by Arsenal’s Premier League rivals.
Sanchez has scored 18 goals in 29 league games, but the Chilean forward has cut a frustrated figure, and Merson thinks it won’t be long before he’s on the move.
And Merson is sure he’ll be lured to Stamford Bridge, the Sky Sports pundit telling Newsweek . “I would be shocked if Sanchez wasn’t playing for Chelsea next season.
“People go, ‘Oh, don’t be silly,’ but don’t forget if he was going to sign, he probably would have done it at the start of the year.
“I don’t see him signing and why people say he’ll never go to Chelsea, Arsenal don’t work like that. They’re not going to let him see his contract out: They want £50million. They sold [Robin] Van Persie to Man United [in 2012] and they went on and won the league. They don’t care about that.”
Merson on Wenger
Uncertainty about the future has been a theme at the Emirates Stadium this season. Arsène Wenger, who joined the club in 1996 and has been the most successful manager Arsenal has had, is yet to reveal whether he will extend his contract, which expires at the end of the season.
Arsenal sits fifth in the Premier League, four points off Manchester City in the Champions League positions, with nine games remaining of the season. Some fans feel the club has stagnated under Wenger and want the Frenchman gone, and Merson agrees it is time to say goodbye.
“The only way of getting round it is if he brings in [former Arsenal players] Thierry Henry or Patrick Vieira to work under him for a year, with the assurance that they take over,” Merson says. “I think the fans could accept and swallow that.”
But Merson, 49, believes Wenger is “deluded” over the potential of his team. “I don’t think he sees that they’re a million miles away; that’s his problem. He’s a bit deluded at the moment. If you sat down with him, I think he’d say, ‘Oh yeah, we can win it [the Premier League] next season’. They’ve got no chance. No chance.”
And Merson believes Wenger and the club have grown an arrogance over the past few seasons, in talk of transfers and the pursuit of then-Liverpool striker Luis Sanchez.
“When [Real Madrid striker Karim] Benzema had a chance to come in and he says, ‘What do I need Benzema for, I’ve got [Olivier] Giroud?’ Don’t say that, just put in a bid,” Merson says. “You know, [they offered Liverpool] £40 million-and-a-pound for Suarez. Bid £60 million. Arsenal would have won the league by now.
“There’s an arrogance at Arsenal at the moment, and the arrogance isn’t helping at all. The fans are fighting each other and people up above couldn’t care less.”