Thursday 14 December 2017

Ozil, Oxlade-Chamberlain and Sanchez set to trigger Arsenal exodus and Liverpool are set to pounce

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Petr Cech are both believed to be unhappy with the current situation at Arsenal. Photo: Hannah McKay/Reuters/Livepic
Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Petr Cech are both believed to be unhappy with the current situation at Arsenal. Photo: Hannah McKay/Reuters/Livepic

Jeremy Wilson

The crisis enveloping Arsenal is set to deepen with Mesut Ozil and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain ready to follow Alexis Sanchez out of the club this summer.

It is understood that Ozil has not responded to Arsenal's latest contract offer of over £200,000 a week, with friends in Germany claiming he wants to quit the Emirates.

The 10-2 aggregate defeat by Bayern Munich in the Champions League has increased calls for Arsene Wenger to go when his contract expires at the end of the season, but the manager's future is not the only problem facing owner Stan Kroenke and chief executive Ivan Gazidis.

Arsenal had been more hopeful of convincing Ozil to sign a new deal than Sanchez, but it is believed that Wenger is coming round to the idea that both players may need to be sold if he remains beyond this season.

Even though Sanchez and Ozil will only have one year remaining on their contracts at the end of this season, Wenger has always insisted that it will be Arsenal's decision whether or not they start the next campaign at the club.

Any realistic hope of keeping Sanchez appeared to evaporate when the Chile international walked off the training pitch and was involved in a heated argument with Laurent Koscielny and Aaron Ramsey before being dropped to the bench for last Saturday's 3-1 defeat at Liverpool.

It seems Arsenal and Wenger are now also losing hope over Ozil, who has been heavily criticised for his performances and work-rate this season.

The German missed the defeat to Liverpool through illness and was drafted in as a late substitute for the 5-1 thrashing by Bayern at the Emirates on Tuesday after the withdrawals of Danny Welbeck and Alex Iwobi.

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But there have been suggestions around the club that the recent absence of Ozil has not solely been down to illness or injury.

Another Arsenal player with only 12 months remaining on his contract at the end of this season is Oxlade-Chamberlain, the only player to earn praise for his performance on Tuesday.

Disillusioned

Having become disillusioned with his contract situation and playing time, Oxlade-Chamberlain looks certain to quit the club in an attempt to reignite his career.

Sources close to the 23-year-old have suggested he needs a fresh challenge, with Arsenal yet to offer him a new deal. It now appears that there is little chance Oxlade-Chamberlain will sign a new contract even if one is offered to him because the club have left it so late and he craves more first-team football.

Oxlade-Chamberlain is concerned that his career has not kicked on at Arsenal, where there have been limited opportunities, and is desperate to play more regularly and regain his place in the England squad.

There will be no shortage of clubs interested in signing the midfielder, including Liverpool, and it seems highly unlikely that Arsenal will allow him to go into the final year of his contract without selling him.

Oxlade-Chamberlain has been unfortunate in often being one of the young players who makes way and is frequently substituted by Wenger. He rarely completes 90 minutes or plays in the same position from one match to the next.

There was also bemusement when the manager claimed in December that talks were under way with Oxlade-Chamberlain's representatives over a new deal. No contract has been offered.

Doubts remain over the future of Jack Wilshere, whose contract expires next year and who is on loan at Bournemouth, while David Ospina is looking for a new club and fellow goalkeeper Petr Cech was frustrated at being left on the bench in the Champions League.

Wenger has another big decision to make over his goalkeepers ahead of Saturday's FA Cup quarter-final against Lincoln City, as Ospina has played in all of the FA Cup games to date but Cech moved to Arsenal to win trophies and the competition represents their last realistic chance of silverware.

Despite doubts over the future of individuals and tension in the squad, Theo Walcott has called on Arsenal's players to stop their in-fighting and to channel their aggression into helping to ease the pressure on Wenger.

Asked about the training ground incident involving Sanchez, Walcott said: "There are certain things that happen at training grounds. I'm sure it happens at every other training ground, most of the time, really. You don't see it often at Arsenal. Things have happened. They need to stay in the dressing-room and the players and staff need to sort it out. We are in it together here. We can't be fighting each other.

"I don't really want to go into it, but the stuff that has gone on did not affect our first half (against Bayern Munich)."

Wenger still intends to fight on and prove in the remaining 80 days of the season that he can reinvent his team.

With his contract expiring in June, a new two-year deal has been provisionally drawn up but both Wenger and the club believe that their relationship is such that a mutual decision can be taken on whether it should be actioned.

Arsenal want Wenger to show that he can change and push the club to the next level. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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