Alexis Sánchez is heading into the final six months of his current deal at Arsenal and is widely-expected to be gone before the start of next season.
The Chilean superstar is not expected to put pen to paper over a new deal and it’s now a matter of whether the Gunners will cash in on the 28-year-old in January or risk losing him on a free transfer in the summer.
Provided Arsène Wenger sees out the two-year contract he signed this past summer, the Arsenal manager has a tough task replacing the forward he signed from Barcelona for £35m million in 2014.
Here are five potential candidates who could replace Sánchez at the Emirates:
The German international has started nine of Paris Saint-Germain’s 16 Ligue 1 games so far this season, mostly in a central midfield role. That’s where Draxler spent most of his time with Schalke 04, where he came through the youth ranks and made a name for himself.
However, with PSG signing the likes of Neymar and Kylian Mbappé over the summer and already having the likes of Ángel Di María and Lucas Moura on their books, the 24-year-old is going to struggle to play 90 minutes on a regular basis, particularly in the big games.
Therefore Draxler could be available for transfer come either January or next summer and Arsène Wenger has been linked with signing the 2014 World Cup previously. With the Gunners boss playing two attacking midfielders behind the striker of late, Draxler could be a direct replacement for Sánchez here.
Arsenal failed with a big bid for AS Monaco winger, Thomas Lemar, on transfer deadline day at the end of August. It proved to be too late in the window as the defending French champions had already sold a lot of their stars earlier in the window and it gave them no time to replace him.
Lemar is only 22 years old and was one of Monaco’s stars in their surprise Ligue 1 title success last season, as well as reaching the semi-finals of the Champions League. He’s a playmaker down the left wing who offers goals and is now a regular in Didier Deschamps’ French national team.
Monaco will find it difficult to keep hold of their star players again next summer and it’s very possible that Thomas Lemar will end up leaving before the start of next season. Arsenal is a possible destination and the attacker could be a very good direct replacement for Alexis Sánchez down the left wing.
The Swedish international was one of the stars in last season’s Bundesliga as newly-promoted RB Leipzig finished shock runners-up in the German top flight. In 30 league appearances (27 starts) last season Forsberg scored eight goals and recorded a staggering 19 assists.
However, with the team not playing anywhere near their level of last season, Forsberg’s stats have dropped off significantly. The 26-year-old only has one goal and two assists in 12 Bundesliga games (9 starts). He does have two goals in five Champions League appearances though.
The attacking midfielder could replace Alexis Sánchez in a central attacking midfield role, where he is an excellent dribbler of the ball. He’s good at crossing and creating chances, as well as taking a decent free kick.
At some point Atlético Madrid could end up losing a number of their star players – starting with Antoine Griezmann. Diego Simeone’s side appear to be out of the 2017-18 La Liga title race with Barcelona’s blistering start and are on the verge of elimination from the Champions League at the group stage.
Simeone himself has been linked with a move away from the Spanish side and star striker Griezmann is widely expected to leave in next summer’s transfer window. If this is the start of a mass exodus at the Wanda Metropolitano then Yannick Carrasco could be one of those players to depart.
The Belgian international isn’t even a regular starter but offers both goals and assists down the left wing when he does play. Carrasco is quick and has flair – two traits Alexis Sánchez shares. He enjoys running at defenders and causing problems for defences so he could fit in very well in the Premier League.
A long shot but Isco isn’t a regular starter at Real Madrid and has been strongly linked to Manchester United in recent months. Who is to say that Arsenal couldn’t try to bring the Spanish international to the Premier League?
Isco can play in any of the attacking midfield roles when Wenger plays either a 3-4-2-1 or 4-2-3-1 formation. He’s an excellent playmaker who also gets among the goals. A similar mould to David Silva and Juan Mata who have starred in the Premier League over the past few years, this 25-year-old certainly has the ability to fit in among them.
Whether Real Madrid would be willing to sell the player, Arsenal would match their asking price, and Isco would agree to a move to the Gunners, is up for debate though.