For the seventh season on the spin, Arsenal were eliminated in the Champions League round-of-16 stage, with the club utterly humiliated by Bayern Munich. The German outfit hammered Arsene Wenger’s men 10-2 on aggregate, beating the Gunners 5-1 in each of the two contests.
Few expected Arsenal to challenge Bayern, who are considered one of the leading contenders for the European crown if you were to bet on Champions League with Paddy Power. However, the manner of the defeat with Carlo Ancelotti’s men literally walking the ball into the net brought a large amount of vitriol towards Wenger and the Arsenal board.
The club’s supporters – who were already in revolt against the Frenchman – raised the level of their protests against him extending his tenure at the Emirates Stadium. Worryingly for the Gunners the behavior of their two star players – Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil – has not been encouraging, with the Chilean seen smiling on the bench after being substituted as Bayern poured on the agony late in the game.
That incident only added fuel to the fire that the 28-year-old will be leaving the club in the summer. Sanchez’s contract expires at the end of the next season and the Gunners are yet to agree on a long-term deal with the star man. He has reportedly become frustrated with Arsenal’s failings on the pitch and their latest setback will only convince the Chilean that he is unlikely to find success at the club in his pursuit of major titles.
Losing such an important player would be a hammer blow for the Gunners – and would be exacerbated by the departure of Ozil as well. The German’s contract is also expiring in the near future, although his performances have not been on the high standard of his team-mates, especially in matches against the top sides.
Ozil was merely a passenger in defeats to Manchester City, Chelsea, and Bayern and has been accused of being a ‘flat-track bully’ only performing against the lesser sides in the Premier League and Champions League.
Should Ozil and Sanchez leave along with Wenger, Arsenal will be a club transformed over the summer with a new manager and key players to find. The Chilean has been linked with a move to Juventus and could fetch the Gunners decent value, although it might come slightly less than the €90m the Bianconeri paid for Gonzalo Higuain.
Ozil has been touted with a move to Manchester United that could well see another painful future for Arsenal fans if he has the success Cesc Fabregas has enjoyed since his move to Chelsea – via Barcelona.
There are not many names that immediately spring to mind that Arsenal would be able to lure to the Emirates to replace the duo, especially if they were to fail to finish in the top four. Antoine Griezmann is reportedly available but will want Champions League football, while the same could be said for Andrea Belotti.
Meanwhile, James Rodriguez and Marco Reus have been linked to replace Ozil – the Colombian would be a solid fit but would command a huge fee and the Gunners would face huge competition for his signature. Reus, on the other hand, should be avoided due to his fitness record.
However, any business the Gunners perform over the summer should be considered with the caveat that no matter how much you spend – success it not always guaranteed.
Look no further than Manchester United’s business since Sir Alex Ferguson left or their splashes on Granit Xhaka and Shkodran Mustafi last summer – with neither player excelling in their first term.