Alexis Sánchez is staying at Arsenal, after seeing a proposed £60m move to Manchester City collapse on deadline day.
The north London club were open, in the end, to selling him to City, despite a summer of insistences to the contrary, but they maintained they would do so only if they could sign a new attacking player.
AS Monaco’s Thomas Lemar was the one that they wanted and, incredibly, they met the Ligue 1 champions’ €100m (£92m) asking price. City, meanwhile, put forward a second cash offer for Sánchez, which was worth £55m plus £5m in add-ons. Arsenal were inclined to accept it.
But with Lemar playing for France against Holland in a World Cup qualifier – he scored twice – Arsenal said that they ran out of time to conclude what would have been a complicated financial package for the player – not to mention put him through a medical. And so, to the disappointment of Sánchez, who had pushed for the move, he found that the path to the Etihad Stadium was blocked.
Pep Guardiola had demanded the signing of Sánchez, with whom he had worked at Barcelona in the 2011-12 season, and there was the belief at City on Thursday morning that everything was in place – most important, Arsenal’s deal for Lemar. That would prove to be incorrect and there has been the feeling at City that Lemar simply rejected Arsenal.
The Sánchez saga has dominated the summer. He has long made it plain that he will not sign a new deal at Arsenal, despite the club offering him fresh terms on around £300,000 a week; his contract pays him £130,000 a week.
He hoped that Arsenal would relent in the face of standing to lose such a valuable asset for nothing next summer. But instead, with Arsène Wenger the public face of the policy, the club insisted they would rather keep him for one last year, even if it meant losing him as a Bosman free agent.
Arsenal did the sums and they concluded that they have a better chance of returning to the Champions League with Sánchez in the team and reacquainting themselves with the £40m-a-year revenue streams from the competition. Therefore, they were never going to accept any offers for him of £40m-£50m.
They rejected City’s opening offer of £50m on Tuesday yet, by then, their stance had altered. It became clear that there was a tipping point on Sánchez, albeit an expensive one, and City were encouraged. They were so confident on Wednesday night they would be able to push through a deal that they put a medical team on standby in Chile – where Sánchez has been on international duty.
Everything depended on Arsenal making a marquee attacking signing but, in short, they were unable to do so. There had been fears at the club that getting such a deal over the line in a short space of time would be impossible. Arsenal made three bids for Lemar earlier in the summer – the biggest being worth €50m. But even the €100m offer did not end with it getting the job done.
© The Guardian