Alexis Sanchez has been our saviour on many occasions.
That little moment of genius that separates games from the ignominy of the forgotten. The sprinkling of unpredictability that unlocks packed defences and rescues a game from the doldrums.
That has been our Chilean’s speciality since his arrival.
He is no longer our saviour though, he’s just a naughty boy.
This season has been telling in where Alexis’ heart lies, and it is apparent it isn’t at The Emirates.
On some level, we can’t blame him. His signing appeared to be the herald of a continued change of approach, a try at actually acting like the stature of club we purported to be. We had gone big again, one season after breaking our transfer record with the purchase of Mesut Ozil.
It hasn’t transpired. We’re still treading water, still a sizeable gap between us and the glory we should be tussling for each season.
We’ve won silverware, something some of our rivals who are reportedly doing better than us have failed to do for some time. It isn’t enough however.
We’ve dropped out of the Champions League places, we’ve still to rectify the middle of our midfield after so many seasons of inadequecy. Alexis would have joined the club with promises of duking it with the big boys, but it hasn’t materialised.
Still though, there is a big difference in performance from Alexis this season than in his previous campaigns.
Last season we saw a sometimes petulant Alexis. Giving off waves of frustration with every dropped head, every wild arm movement, every scream at his teammates for losing the ball.
He still proved the difference for us on many occasions. He still bagged a hatful of goals and assists though, even if he appeared to be desperately unhappy with things.
At least those small tantrums showed he cared though. The smirking Alexis on the bench we’ve seen on occasion is the direct opposite.
The Alexis we have this season is a far cry from the one we tried so hard to keep this summer. His poor goal tally, his failure to exert himself on proceedings the way he is capable of, they are all signs that his mind is elsewhere. He is biding his time before going to grass that in his mind – is emerald green.
Six goals in 22 appearances. Only three assists. Those aren’t the figures we have come to expect of Alexis, and the old Alexis would be disgusted with himself with such poor numbers.
We have seen Alexis work his magic this season. His performance against tottenham reminded us that we still have a jewel in our midst. It has also contrasted with his mediocre season thus far.
His performance against Manchester United and then Southampton were awful. He lost the ball on 34 separate occasions against United, and the number was disgustingly similar against the Saints.
Losing possession that many times is unforgivable. He plays in a team that relies on possession, we need it to damage teams. So for him to travel down blind alleyways on the pitch and take on three more players than he needs to is downright irresponsible, and shows he doesn’t care for the team as much as he needs to.
Players of his ilk carry more weight of responsibility as they are looked to by teammates and fans to provide that key that unlocks any defence. When they no longer care for the team though and are just doing things on the pitch to stay in the mind of another manager, then we must look at allowing him to leave.
There are many options for his next club, but we could quite easily find a team that isn’t a domestic rival, and perhaps have a player that could benefit us in a swap? PSG and Julian Draxler srping to mind?
Alexis will leave, without a doubt. We need to get a transfer fee and look elsewhere to fill the void left by Alexis.
Not this season’s version though. This season has allowed us to tailor our play a little more and acclimatise to times without him.
Last season’s Alexis inigh on impossible to replace, this season there are plenty to choose from. Time to get busy in the market.