Arsenal Transfer Rumours: Alexis Sanchez Would Provide Flexibility on Front Line

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Arsenal Transfer Rumours: Alexis Sanchez Would Provide Flexibility on Front Line
Hassan Ammar/Associated Press

It's no big secret that Arsenal are in need of increased striking options next season, and Barcelona star Alexis Sanchez is the rumoured target that would give Arsene Wenger the crucial line-up flexibility and goalscoring prowess he needs to take his team to the top of the Premier League.

According to the The Telegraph's Jeremy Wilson and Chris Bacombe, the Gunners and Sanchez have an agreement in principle:

"Arsenal are understood to have a deal agreed in principle with Sánchez. Although Barcelona are eager for him to move to Liverpool to speed up the Suárez negotiations, there is no guarantee Sánchez will agree to such a switch as he considers his options."

There is no doubt that Arsenal need striking options beyond Olivier Giroud, who scored 22 goals last season and played in a staggering 51 games across all competitions, including 36 in league play. Giroud did fade a bit at the end of last season, scoring just four goals over his last 13 total appearances for Arsenal, per WhoScored.com.

Sanchez's scoring record is excellent, with 19 goals and 10 assists in 34 La Liga games for the Catalan giants last season. This is with the incomparable Lionel Messi as the team's main option.

Manu Fernandez/Associated Press

Barcelona mainly use him as a winger, but Sanchez has proven with the Chilean national team that he can operate as a striker and central playmaker in a high-pressure scheme. This proven ability to play multiple positions allows Arsenal to secure a target man while also providing cover on the right side.

Sanchez has stated that Barcelona's playing style doesn't always suit him, so he could be looking for a change. 

"Sometimes I want to take people on but because the opposition is defending so deep I can’t and so I have to just play a pass back into midfield," said Sanchez, via The Daily Mail's Pete Jenson. 

Teams can often sit back against Arsenal's possession-oriented style, but they can utilize a more direct approach with Giroud as a target man and Mesut Ozil playing crucial through balls to the likes of Theo Walcott and Lukas Podolski.

Bogdan Maran/Associated Press
Sanchez could provide cover on the right and allow Ozil to occupy his natural central-playmaking position

Speaking of Walcott, if Wenger wants to go for a line-up built around speed, pairing Sanchez with the pacy Englishman up top could create havoc for opposing central defenders.

Walcott has made cameos for Arsenal as a striker, and his speed would be difficult to deal with in the middle and with Sanchez to his right.

Sanchez would also prevent Ozil from having to play a right forward position and stick to his natural spot at centre; he made five appearances at that spot for Arsenal, per WhoScored.com.

Should Arsenal suffer injuries to wide players like Walcott or Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Sanchez gives Wenger the ability to shuffle players around while he looks for the best combination. He made 32 appearances on the right side and four in centre for Barcelona last season, per WhoScored.com.

This flexibility is always critical for the Gunners, who are usually in the thick of both Premier League and UEFA Champions League races by the midpoint of the season.

Of course, there is always the potential that Wenger disappoints long-suffering—well, that descriptor depends on your views on the FA Cup—Arsenal fans and doesn't make a big splash in the summer transfer window. If that is the case, Arsenal have a couple of young options to consider.

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Joel Campbell could be an option as long as the Gunners don't send him out on loan again. He has demonstrated some excellent striker capabilities in the World Cup this summer, but he isn't nearly as developed as Sanchez.

Yaya Sanogo made a few brief cameos for the first team last season, but the 21-year-old would be better served going out on loan for a season or two. However, Arsenal are too close to a Premier League championship to rely heavily on young players at such an important position. They need reinforcements up top, and Sanchez would give them a wonderful boost.

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