When Arsenal, under the leadership of Arsene Wenger did a clumsy and complicated swap deal involving Alexis Sanchez and Henrikh Mkhitaryan in 2018, the supporters’ response was luke warm to say the least.
It seemed at the time that Arsenal had traded a highly polished diamond for a somewhat mouldy potato and fans couldn’t see the logic in another toxic deal with their old rivals Manchester United. It was all a bit too familiar after Sir Alex Ferguson successfully made off with the Dutch turncoat Robin Van Persie to subsequently win the Premier League in 2012/13.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan had hardly set Old Trafford alight and the fact that he was replacing a world class talent made the whole transaction more of a mystery.
Six months on and Sanchez had bombed in United colours under Jose Mourinho, not just bombed but he stank the place out. At the same time, Mkhitaryan played a series of low key, low intensity games under manager Wenger just before the Frenchman was shown the door.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan was looking like the equivalent of an unwanted puppy, flitting between disinterested owners, who would have much rather had a cat.
Unai Emery arrived to change Arsenal’s fortunes and prune the ranks, with Henrikh Mkhitaryan one of the first to be jettisoned after a brief honeymoon period.
Roma were looking to reinforce their midfield options and they agreed a loan for Henrikh with an option to buy. That agreement is almost up just as Arteta is assessing his options at Arsenal before the serious rebuilding work begins in the summer.
The Spaniard arrived talking about clean slates like an overly zealous roofer. He breezed into the job with an olive branch under each arm and a dove on each shoulder, looking to resurrect the dead or dying careers of a number of high profile, highly paid Arsenal players.
Roma’s opening offer to buy the Armenian for just over £8m went down as well as a chicken leg at a vegan buffet and it now begs the question, will Arteta sell or has he got room for one last miracle cure.
The truth is that Arteta doesn’t really need another misfiring thirty year old and would welcome the cash to buy some fresh legs, but Roma will have to make the deal slightly more tempting or Mkhitaryan will be back in London before you can say ‘top four’
Arteta has more than one cash iron in the fire at present, with Mohamed Elneny departing from Beskitas for a possible move to AC Milan.
If Mustafi were to go in the same period, Arsenal could potentially claw back around £40m / £45m, which would be an impressive first bid for a decent central defender.
Rumours also persist that Hector Bellerin may be on the move soon to seek out the trophies that have eluded him at Arsenal, and one could surmise that the Spaniard would generate the figure of the three I’ve already mentioned on his own.
Arsenal fans looking for new faces in January may have to wait until some old ones disappear first.