Emmanuel Petit: In sporting terms, selling Alexis in January is a bad decision

The former Gunners midfielder thinks the timing of the deal is very surprising, and wonders why it wasn't done six months ago...

Emmanuel Petit


The Alexis Sanchez transfer was very predictable. The player’s contract is up, and it has been clear for quite some time that he was going to leave. The only thing that surprises me is that Arsenal chose to sell him during the January transfer window – they could have sold him last summer and received at least double the amount they’ll get now.

Perhaps there were ongoing talks in the interim, but in a situation where your best player is in the final year of his contract, it’s going to be hard to keep him. I believe the club have known what Alexis’ decision would be for months now, which makes it all the more surprising that they would sell him at this stage of the season.

It’s a good deal, but it could have been a great deal if it had been done in the previous window, and may have allowed them to bring in reinforcements then. Instead, they ended up with an off-key Sanchez for six months, so in purely sporting terms, it was a bad decision.

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Alexis will be an excellent player for Manchester United. They’ve got a top-quality footballer, with the skills and mentality to survive at the elite level. He will be extremely motivated to perform for them, considering he’ll get the money he wants and will be playing for one of the biggest clubs in the world in the Champions League. He’s exactly the type of player United need, and he could be the missing link for them.

As for Mkhitaryan, since he signed for United he hasn’t been involved enough. I’m not sure he has a winning mentality, and sometimes he reminds me of Ozil: you really have to push him to show his character and put him under pressure to display his best qualities. There’s no doubt he has great skill, but I’m not sure he’s the kind of player that Arsenal need – they should be focused on other positions.

Arsenal are struggling to bring in top-quality players, and also to keep the ones they have. It has been like this for a long time. They must be more competitive on the market, both when buying and selling. Times have changed since I left Arsenal, but I’m pretty sure Arsène is still heavily involved when it comes from to the transfer market.

But I wonder about the quality of players they have been signing. There has been a lot of speculation about the likes of Aubameyang and Malcom – but with the money Arsenal have, they should be aiming higher. Because they are not competitive on the pitch at the moment, they need to be more competitive with wages: if you can’t guarantee trophies or at least compete to win them, then you must offer players more in order to come to the club. That’s just the way it works.

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What do you think?