After an enthralling battle with hosts Brazil, Chile have gone out of the World Cup. However, for star striker Alexis Sanchez, there could still be an eventful summer ahead. Amid rumours that Barcelona could be prepared to let him go, Arsene Wenger should consider making Sanchez his top transfer target this summer.
Some may wonder why Barcelona would possibly consider allowing Sanchez to leave. The Chilean forward has followed up an impressive 2013/14 with a superb World Cup. Last season, he hit 19 goals in 34 La Liga appearances.
In Brazil, he subsequently starred for his national side with his whirlwind attacking displays. Most club sides would be delighted to have him.
However, Barcelona are in a period of transition. Carles Puyol and Victor Valdes have already announced their departure, and it is expected that Xavi will follow suit. Under new boss Luis Enrique, Barca need to rebuild. In order to facilitate the spending required to replace those icons, Cesc Fabregas has already been sold. Now it seems Sanchez could be forced to follow Fabregas through the Nou Camp exit.
According to Simon Rice of The Independent, the battle for Sanchez’s services is about to intensify:
Arsene Wenger, who has been scouting players while watching the World Cup in Brazil, is desperate to add to the Gunners' strike force and reports suggest he has made Sanchez his top target. It's claimed Arsenal will make a £32m bid for the 25-year-old.
It’s a deal that would seem to make perfect sense. Arsenal have been on the market for a new striker for the best part of two years now. This summer, they must deliver.
A year ago, Arsene Wenger was fixated with the prospect of recruiting Liverpool’s Luis Suarez. Arsenal felt they had obtained knowledge of a buyout clause in the Uruguayan’s contract that would allow them to wrest him away from Liverpool. Obviously, that plan didn’t pan out.
However, Suarez’s misdemeanors this summer might allow Arsene Wenger to think he was justified in refusing to pay more than £40 million to get his man. There’s no point spending a club-record fee on a player who is frequently suspended.
Sanchez shares many of Suarez’s positive attributes. He has electric pace and and an uncanny ability to retain the ball as he weaves between opposition defenders, and he has the versatility to play either as an unconventional No. 9 or a wide forward in the Theo Walcott mould.
He’s also a ferocious competitor. Against Brazil, the Chilean international did not allow his markers a moment’s rest for 120 minutes. Sanchez provides both perpetual motion and perennial threat.
However, unlike Suarez, he rarely allows his competitive streak to boil over in to acts of wild unpleasantness. Sanchez brings the verve without the violence.
The two forwards’ futures could be intertwined. Suarez is widely tipped to leave Anfield this summer, with the BBC suggesting Barcelona could be interested in taking him to La Liga. Such a move would instantly free Sanchez to go elsewhere.
In the event of Suarez’s departure, Liverpool would regard Sanchez as an ideal replacement. Arsenal should move fast to make sure they get their man. He may not be wanted at the Nou Camp, but he is desperately needed at Arsenal.
James McNicholas is Bleacher Report’s lead Arsenal correspondent and is reporting from his World Cup base in Brazil.