Five potential replacements for Alexis Sanchez

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Alexis Sanchez’s future is still in the air at Arsenal. The Chilean cuts an increasingly frustrated figure at Arsenal and while his manager Arsene Wenger dances to the tune of ‘He wants to stay’ the consensus is that Sanchez will be plying his trade elsewhere next season.

 

Should the former Barcelona forward leave The Emirates here are five potential players who could replace the dogged Chile frontman:

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5.

Anthony Martial

Club: Manchester United

Cost: £35m – £55m

A bit of a wildcard to start off with. With Jose Mourinho and Wenger’s open dislike for each other it is unlikely that Mourinho would want to sell a talented player to a rival. However, Martial is well out-of-favour with The Special One and could be offloaded this summer. Should Arsenal submit a bid which would recoup a lot – if not all – of what Louis van Gaal paid for the then teenager Mourinho may well be willing to part with the young Frenchman.

 

Martial offers directness, pace and can finish. He is still inconsistent Wenger will no doubt have patience with the former Monaco man and give him the love he looks like he needs.

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4.

Yannick Carrasco

Club: Atletico Madrid

Cost: £51m – £65m

Carrasco will cost a lot of money; the type of money Arsenal have never parted with. However, the Belgian is becoming a star under Diego Simeone in the Spanish capital. The winger has eight goals and four assists this season for Atletico.

 

An explosive winger who can play on both flanks, Carrasco causes nightmares for opposition full-backs who have a difficult time dealing with tricky wide man. Carrasco is still 23-years-old and can get better with the right nurturing.

 

Carrasco would bring with him the directness which Sanchez would leave behind. While the young Belgium international may cost a lot but the windfall Arsenal should receive for Sanchez, should he leave, would go a long way to bringing the Atletico Madrid winger to The Emirates. Having said that, with speculation over the future of Antoine Griezmann, Simeone will be more than reluctant to let two of his star men walk away in the same transfer window.

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3.

Mohamed Salah

Club: Roma

Cost: £30m – £40m

 

After failing to shine during his first brief stint in England with Chelsea Salah has gone on to light up Serie A with goals and assists galore. The Egyptian forward has 11 goals and eight assists this campaign and 27 Serie A goals in total since joining Roma in 2015.

 

Salah himself is still only 24-years-old, although in recent years he has felt like somewhat of a journeyman since his Chelsea move did not work out with stints at former club Basel and Fiorentina before finally settling in Rome.

 

The Egypt frontman has pace in abundance, can play with either foot and finish in a variety of ways. Arsenal are always looking for classy forwards and Salah has shown that he is certainly one of them. His eight assists and 60 chances created this term show he can pick a pick a pass also – perfect ammunition for Olivier Giroud, or maybe a new Arsenal forward.

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2.

Douglas Costa

Club: Bayern Munich

Cost: £22m – £30m

Douglas Costa is reportedly unhappy at Bayern Munich and is seeking a move away. Now at 26 the Brazilian is at a stage in his career where he needs regular games – which he is not getting behind Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery.

 

Costa tore Arsenal apart during their 5-1 hammering of the Gunners in the last-16 tie of the Champions League with trickery and pace that neither Hector Bellerin nor Nacho Monreal could handle.

 

Costa’s inconsistency is perhaps what drives Carlo Ancelotti to leave him out of the Bayern first XI but he certainly has the ability to get Arsenal fans out of their seats. Not as direct as an out and out winger, Costa is strong on both feet and can float inside to get involved through the middle as well as beating his full-back down the line.

 

With his unhappiness at Bayern and the German giants seemingly happy to offload the wide man Costa would probably be the cheapest option of the list – which would probably appeal most to Wenger as he is notoriously tight with the  purse strings.

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1.

James Rodriguez

Club: Real Madrid

Cost: £45m – £55m

 

James is maybe the most likely player to make his way to The Emirates on this list. Not so much because he is desperate to join Arsenal or Arsenal are desperate to take him, but because Real Madrid and the Colombian have made no secret about his desire to leave and Madrid’s keenness to offload him.

 

James is typically a number ten but can play out wide. His goal in the 2014 World Cup against Uruguay was the stand out moment that summer and announced James to the world stage – it is also a glimpse of what he can do in a split second.

 

If Arsenal part ways with the £50m sum the Spanish giants are asking for then they will be getting a player that will not hound and harass defenders like Sanchez will, but will give you quality in abundance when going forward. In order for the Colombian to succeed he may need, perhaps like Mesut Ozil, a world-class holding midfielder who will pick up his lack of work ethic.

 

The former Monaco man has the flair that Arsene Wenger loves in a player and the technical quality which the Arsenal boss also looks for in his attacking players. He can float between the lines exposing the gaps in midfield and defence which can carve teams apart.

 

 

James is a different type of player to Sanchez – perhaps more in line with Ozil’s style of play but his quality cannot be denied and if Sanchez leaves Arsenal must replace him with quality – and James is certainly that.

Martial welcomes Ibrahimovic – but there is cause for concern

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You don’t buy a Ferrari to drive it like a Fiat, a brash Zlatan Ibrahimovic once screamed at then Barcelona boss Pep Guardiola. Unhappy with his role – playing second fiddle to Lionel Messi – Ibrahimovic has been difficult to keep happy throughout his career.

 

Ibrahimovic is expected to announce his next club on Tuesday along with the launch of his clothing brand. The Swede is also expected to sign for Manchester United in what would be one of the worst kept secrets in football.

 

Anthony Martial is one of a number of United players who is welcoming the 34-year-old to Old Trafford but in the case of the French forward, there could be a cause for concern.

 

The young Frenchman ended the season poised to become the man at Manchester United like so many before him. Ryan Giggs, Eric Cantona, Cristiano Ronaldo and Wayne Rooney. Yet he could return playing second fiddle to a man who while a genius on the ball is well known for being rather self absorbed.

 

Ibrahimovic throughout his career has always felt that the team should revolve around him. No doubt he is one of the best players in Europe and in his earlier years teams have been constructed to work with his strengths and cover what few weaknesses he has. However, last season ended with Manchester United in prime position to build around a sensation of their own in Martial.

 

Martial burst onto the scene with a sensational solo goal against Liverpool. The 19-year-old went on to be one of few bright spots in Louis van Gaal’s reign as he ended the 2015/16 season on the cusp of being a genuine superstar.

While he occupied the left hand side for the majority of the season the arrival of Ibrahimovic could well see Martial’s rise to stardom stutter – for a year at least. Marcus Rashford’s progress also.

 

It was clear that the former Monaco front man was becoming the star of the new Manchester United. Like Wayne Rooney before him, Martial could symbolise a new era at Old Trafford. In 2004 Sir Alex Ferguson paid around £30m for an exceptionally talented forward and years later it could be argued that it was the best £30m ever spent in football.

 

The budding superstar commanded a similar fee – depending on which reports you believe – and has flashed similar abilities of the 18-year-old Rooney. Rooney soon became the heart of the Man United team along with Cristiano Ronaldo and formed one of the deadliest front lines Europe has ever seen along with Carlos Tevez.

 

Martial possesses a similar ability and will blossom into just as formidable player if the team is constructed around him as it once was with Rooney.

 

Ibrahimovic will enter Old Trafford as Jose Mourinho’s guy. The pair have a bond stronger than most brothers. Hardly a surprise when you consider their respective personalities. Martial, as talented as he is, is not Mourinho’s guy. He is yet to build up the former Chelsea boss’ trust and that counts for a lot in a Jose Mourinho team.

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SOLNA, SWEDEN – JUNE 05: Zlatan Ibrahimovic of Sweden and Andy King of Wales during the international friendly between Sweden and Wales at Friends Arena on June 5, 2016 in Solna, Sweden. (Photo by Mikael Sjoberg/Ombrello/Getty Images)

We have seen talented players such as Romelu Lukaku and Kevin De Bryune suffer and ultimately be exiled due to Mourinho’s lack of faith in their ability. The pair have since gone on to become two of the most sought after talents in world football but it was Mourinho’s show – as it always is.

 

Martial made United tick with his directness and pace down the left hand side giving defenders nightmares. His injury time winner against Everton in the F.A. Cup semi-final was the kind of moment in time which all young sensations have. Will Martial’s effectiveness and boldness on the ball suffer with the demand to cater to Ibrahimovic’s ego?

 

Manchester United fans are excited about the arrival of the legendary Swede and they have a right to be. But for all his goal scoring prowess there are a selection of Red Devils supporters than have forgotten about how much of a prima donna he can be. Edinson Cavani, now settled with life at PSG, once had huge issues having arrived at the club as the most feared striker in Europe following his time at Napoli only to find himself out of position and pandering to Ibrahimovic up front.

 

Ibrahimovic possesses a lifetime of football experience but has never been one to mentor. A man who first and foremost looks after his own interests and expects the rest of the team to fall in line. Such an attitude will shackle United’s French sensation and even if it is only for a year we have seen what a draining of confidence can do. Memphis Depay and Angel Di Maria are perfect examples from within the club.

 

Manchester United have always been a club that have made young superstars the hub of their team. Sir Alex constructed a team around the class of ’92 and later around Ronaldo and Rooney waving in a new age of success. Perhaps that United is well and truly dead and buried as the era of short term success takes over.

 

While Ibrahimovic is the star name – Martial is the longer term option. There has never been a signing more representative of the era Manchester United occupy. A short term signing for short term success.

What we learned: 5 things from the F.A. Cup semi final

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A late Anthony Martial goal sent Manchester United into their first F.A. Cup final since 2007. At the expense of Everton, and an under pressure Roberto Martinez, Louis van Gaal will now compete for his first piece of silverware as Man United boss. Here are five things we learned from the pulsating semi-final.

 

  1. Roberto Martinez is almost certainly leaving Everton this summer

In what was a pivotal week for the former Wigan Athletic manager Martinez saw his side played off the park in the Merseyside Derby in a 4-0 drubbing which only got worse as the game went on. The rotten cherry on top of this stale cake is Martial’s late winner in Saturday’s semi-final. With fan patience now at the end Martinez is walking a tightrope and looks almost certain to lose his job this summer with underperforming stars, an inability to defend and lack of tactical flexibility.

 

Everton face four more games this season against: Bournemouth, Leicester City, Sunderland and Norwich City. Even if Martinez manages a clean sweep and collects 12 points from the remaining fixtures it will surely be nothing more than a last act of defiance before the Everton board pull the trigger on the Spaniard.

 

  1. Martial, Rashford & Lingard are the makings of a fearsome front three

Be it by managerial brilliance or luck – be that good or bad – Louis van Gaal has integrated Marcus Rashford and Jesse Lingard into the Manchester United side with great success. Add the superstar in the making that is Martial and they have the makings of a truly terrifying front three. Not since Wayne Rooney, Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez have United had an attack so full of pace, directness and trickery. The chances are this will not be the permanent front three of The Red Devils going into next season – especially if Jose Mourinho takes charge. The trio clearly have a bond on the field which sees them bring the best out of each other and the sample size is becoming larger to show that it is not fluke that they are quality players together. Against Everton’s back line they constantly ran at them forcing the defenders to back off and created the lion share of Manchester United’s chances.

 

  1. Lukaku and Stones need new voices

This could go for the entire Everton team but no players need a new voice in their head quite like Romelu Lukaku and John Stones do. Both have had their heads turned by potential moves to bigger clubs in England and abroad and the inconsistencies of The Toffees has not helped matters. On a day when Everton needed their big players to have a big game they were left disappointed – particularly in the case of the big Belgian. Lukaku saw his penalty saved by David De Gea and that summed up what was an overall poor performance, Lukaku has had attitude problems in the past and they surfaced again today with the former Chelsea hitman not being at his terrorising best which has seen him find the net 25 times this campaign.

 

Stones by contrast had a mixed bag but his regression throughout the season is clear for all to see. He needs a new coach and manager before he forever lingers in the bracket of looking better than he is. Stones failed to steal the ball from Rashford in the build up to United’s opener and then allowed Marouane Fellaini to steal a yard on him giving the Belgium international a goal against his former employers. Perhaps this summer will see the pair shipped out of Goodison Park and for their sake they may need it.

 

  1. Semi-finals can be amazing

Often semi-finals can be dull one goal affairs with both teams often looking not to lose the tie before going on to win it. Not the case with this one, attack was the best form of defence and, although van Gaal’s men bossed the opening 45 minutes, we were treated to a mouth-watering clash with bags of chances and barely a moment to send a tweet out before the next bit of drama unfolded. Martial’s goal was a fitting finish to 90 minutes of rollercoaster action.

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during the FA Cup with Budweiser Final match between Arsenal and Hull City at Wembley Stadium on May 17, 2014 in London, England.

 

  1. The F.A. Cup still matters

Of course it still maters and it always will. The F.A. Cup is part of the very fabric of our culture in England. However, the reason it matters is changing greatly. The cup now represents buying managers a time. Arsene Wenger saw fans keep patience with him after back-to-back F.A. Cup wins in 2014 and 2015. Van Gaal could now see his position safe should he guide Man United to cup glory – the same could be said of Alan Pardew and Quique Sanchez Flores who are also under huge pressure to keep their jobs.

 

The F.A. Cup in recent times has come under more scrutiny as the perception grows that the bigger teams in the Premier League do not treat it with the same respect as they once did with Premier League and Champions League honours top of their list of priorities. Now it can be seen as a life raft keeping managers afloat. Perhaps the prestige has taken a knock but the drama has certainly intensified, you only have to go back and look at a champagne soaked Arsene Wenger clenching his fists to see what victory in the F.A. Cup can mean.