LONDON, ENGLAND – DECEMBER 03: Alexis Sanchez of Arsenal celebrates after scoring his team’s third goal during the Premier League match between West Ham United and Arsenal at London Stadium on December 3, 2016 in London, England. (Photo by Jordan Mansfield/Getty Images)
Alexis Sanchez has taken to social media in the aftermath of reports that a worsening relationship with Arsenal teammates and manager Arsene Wenger has left him actively seeking a departure from the club. The influential Chile international was relegated to the bench for Saturday’s (4 March) clash with Liverpool, only appearing as a half-time substitute and later setting up Danny Welbeck’s goal during a predictable 3-1 defeat at Anfield that left the vulnerable Gunners fifth, two points adrift of the top four.
The decision to drop Sanchez at a time when he is being subjected to increasingly strong criticism from disgruntled supporters was generally seen as a baffling decision from Wenger, who claimed that he opted to field Olivier Giroud and Danny Welbeck instead as part of a more direct tactical approach.
However, subsequent newspaper reports released on Sunday night suggested the 28-year-old, whose frustrated behaviour has been the topic of various headlines over recent months, was actually dropped after storming out of a training session and being confronted by angry teammates regarding his attitude.
Wenger has subsequently denied any fallout, dismissing those reports as “completely false”. He insisted that his relationship with Sanchez was “honest and normal like with every single player” and the two men were filmed shaking hands before a training session held prior to Tuesday night’s Champions League last 16 second-leg tie against Bayern Munich at the Emirates Stadium.
“I explained after the game I decided to go for a more direct option – that was the unique reason for my decision,” Wenger insisted. “He [Sanchez] is a committed player and sometimes with excessive behaviours but you have had that many times in the history of every squad.”
Taking to Instagram with a post that has been construed as his response to the saga, Sanchez said: “The true warrior fights not because he hates the ones in front of him, but because he loves those behind him.”
He added: “Let’s go Gunners. ‘The only failure is not trying.’”
Despite Wenger’s attempts to defuse any controversy, this latest episode casts further significant doubt on Sanchez’s future amid an ongoing contract stand-off. The Mail report that both Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain are set to submit bids for his services, with the latter said to be willing to offer wages of £300,000-per-week.
“Alexis Sanchez has 15 months on his contract so the decision will depend on Arsenal Football Club, not on anyone else,” said Wenger, who has yet to decide if the player will return to his starting XI tomorrow evening as Arsenal face the unenviable task of trying to overturn a 5-1 deficit against reigning Bundesliga champions Bayern.