Alexis Sanchez's Transfer Saga Represents a Major Moment for Arsenal

Sanchez's future is still up in the air, and Arsenal will need to do everything in their power to keep their talisman if they hope to return to the top four.

The speculation swirling around Arsenal and forward Alexis Sanchez has only picked up steam as the summer has progressed.

The transfer roundabout links the Chilean with every possible suitor, from Manchester City to PSG. However, he has not moved yet, and with the Premier League starting in just over two weeks, it seems like there is more and more of a chance Sanchez stays at the Emirates.

This may be due to Arsenal's inability to get a satisfactory fee for the transfer, or could be due to manager Arsene Wenger and the club just outright refusing to sell him. With the player given an extended holiday and also telling Chilean media that he wants to play Champions League football, it seemed all but certain he would leave, so it is likely that the Gunners are the side holding up any deal.

After missing out on the Champions League for the first time since 1997, it makes sense that Sanchez wants to depart. He just had the best season of his career, and at 28 years old, Sanchez should be looking for the best contract of his career, as well. Granted, waiting a year for another transfer or to get back into the Champions League is an option, but there's always the scare of injury or a disappointing year (or Arsenal not qualifying again).

Player Appearances Goals Assists Minutes Per Goal Created
Alexis Sanchez 36 (2) 24 10 94.8
Olivier Giroud 11 (18) 12 3 79.9
Theo Walcott 23 (5) 10 2 160.4
Alexandre Lacazette (Lyon) 28 (2) 28 3 77.7
Mesut Ozil 32 (1) 8 9 167.5

From the club's point of view, keeping Sanchez would represent a major coup. He is the best player on the Gunners roster, and, while Alexandre Lacazette can certainly knock in goals, it is reasonable to think that Arsenal need their top scorer in 2016 to finish in the top four.

Sanchez doubled the goal total of the team's next top scorer, Olivier Giroud, and, with his team-leading 10 assists, Sanchez ended up having a hand in 44 percent of the Gunners' goals, a percentage only surpassed by Romelu Lukaku and Jermain Defoe.

Player Goals Assists Total Team Goals Contribution Percentage
Jermain Defoe 15 2 29 58.0%
Romelu Lukaku 25 6 62 50.0%
Alexis Sanchez 24 10 77 44.1%
Harry Kane 29 7 86 41.9%

Besides Lacazette, who has a terrific track record but is completely unproven in the EPL, there is no one on Arsenal's roster who can replace that contribution. Even then, Sanchez's monster season wasn't enough to place Arsenal in the top four, so if he left, the Gunners would be facing quite an uphill battle to qualify for the Champions League.

This all goes without even considering the prospect of Sanchez leaving for City, one of the Gunners' main rivals for the top four. Arsenal need all the help they can get for this upcoming season, and a negative that turns a positive for Pep Guardiola and City needs to be off the table.

The Sanchez saga this window may be one of the important moments Arsenal has had in years. Sanchez's departure could see the Gunners regress further after last year's disappointing fifth-place finish, while getting him to stay could see Wenger's bunch make a swift return to Europe's top competition -- something the club undoubtedly needs to keep stars like Sanchez, Mesut Ozil, Laurent Koscielny and Granit Xhaka.

In all, this upcoming season is hugely important for the Gunners -- and for Wenger's future -- and they can't afford to go at it without their best player. Arsenal must keep Sanchez this season to be a legitimate competitor and to help maintain the modern reputation Arsenal has amassed.