The saga of Sanchez and Mesut Ozil’s expiring contracts cast a shadow over the first half of Arsenal’s season that was not lifted until the end of the January transfer window, when the Chilean moved to Manchester United in a swap deal that sent Henrikh Mkhitaryan to the Gunners and Ozil signed a three-and-a-half year extension.
Arsenal had agreed a £60million deal from Manchester City for Alexis Sanchez on the final day of the August transfer window but pulled out of a deal after they were unable to secure their preferred replacement, Thomas Lemar, despite having an £92m bid accepted by Monaco.
Speaking exclusively to BT Sport Wenger admitted that he should have sold Sanchez anyway, conceding that the transfer saga had had a destabilising influence on the club before he finally left.
“We have not the defensive stability since the start of the season that you need to have to be completely efficient at our level,” Wenger said.
“And as well there was a lot of uncertainty around the team with the Sanchez case, the Ozil case. For the whole season that was a really difficult case.
“In hindsight maybe despite the fact we couldn’t have brought somebody in we should have cut that earlier.
“Sanchez, for him it was very difficult because as soon as he had game that was average he was questioned about his commitment and that is not his case.
“I never questioned his commitment but it was a difficult situation.”
Sanchez’s departure was part of a hectic January window that saw Arsenal overhaul their attack, as Theo Walcott and Olivier Giroud departed to be replaced by Mkhitaryan and £56m record signing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
High-earning squad players also departed, most notably Francis Coquelin and Mathieu Debuchy, but Wenger has admitted he was unable to complete all the business he wanted to.
Most notably a £12m bid for Jonny Evans was rejected by West Brom but Wenger insisted the process of rebuilding his squad mid-season was even more complex than it appeared.
“I must say as well people don’t realise how much work is behind these transfers,” he added. “How much uncertainty, how much energy, how much travelling, how much sleepless nights is behind that and it’s difficult to combine all that together and to make it all work you know?
“It’s so difficult. I made over 300 transfers in my Arsenal career but they’re always longer now, more detailed, more uncertain and you need more people to work around it.
“It’s not as easy as you know you come in and you give £10 & you buy something you know? It is a long process and a lot of work.”
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