Arsenal star Alexis Sanchez has decided to stay at the club for now and see out his contract, opening the door for a possible transfer as a free agent next summer.
That's according to Chilean outlet La Tercera (via Goal), who report the Gunners have offered Sanchez a new contract worth £300,000 per week amid interest from Manchester City. The former Barcelona man will continue playing on his current deal, however.
While some fans celebrated the news on social media, keeping the Chile international until next summer could also mean losing him for free. The 28-year-old has so far refused to sign a new deal, with rumours regarding ongoing negotiations stretching back to the start of last season.
As shared by Bryan Swanson of Sky Sports, Sanchez previously said he would make his decision after the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup final, which his team lost to Germany on Sunday:
Bryan Swanson @skysports_bryan
Here's what Alexis Sanchez said in Spanish at Chile news conference in St Petersburg a short time ago. #SSNHQ translation: https://t.co/Zk7sYOE6aT2017-6-30 10:47:01
There's little doubt Arsenal are a better team with Sanchez in the fold. He's been their best attacking outlet for years and enjoyed another good season last year, even if the Gunners fell short of a top-four finish in the Premier League.
As shared by WhoScored.com, it certainly wasn't his fault:
Alexis Sánchez: Only Eden Hazard (84) made more key passes from open play than Alexis (77) in the Premier League last season https://t.co/4nNAFnWGcA2017-6-29 09:30:01
But with Sanchez delaying his decision, Arsenal have had few chances to find a potential quality replacement, while some of their English rivals―most notably City and Liverpool―have already added great attacking weapons.
And while his current contract means few teams are likely willing to pay the Gunners top dollar for their main star, even a return in the vicinity of £30 million would have been better than nothing. Arsenal are not expected to contend for the title next year, anyway―the added funds could have accelerated their rebuild.
Elsewhere, A Bola (h/t Daily Mirror, via Goal) report the Gunners will contact Sporting CP for Gelson Martins and William Carvalho, with the club set to offer roughly £70 million for their services.
The latter has been linked with Arsenal since he first emerged as a prospect, but his development has stalled somewhat in Portugal. Martins was a breakout star this past season and could make a big-money move to the Premier League in the near future.
Martins has tremendous potential as a tricky winger―he could function as a long-term replacement for Sanchez should he leave―and while Carvalho's value is currently down, he still has all the tools to be a dominant holding midfielder.
A £70 million move would be a high-risk, high-reward type signing that could solidify two positions for the next decade or sink manager Arsene Wenger's credit, especially if the saga surrounding Sanchez goes bad.