Arsenal legend Lee Dixon has had his say on the Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil debate – with the former England international adamant that they would have both been forced to leave the club were it in his day.
Dixon enjoyed an incredibly successful career at Highbury, being one of very few players to win league titles in three different decades.
There has been mounting speculation in recent months that both Sanchez and Ozil will leave the clubs for free at the end of their contracts, but Dixon is certain that such a situation would have never been allowed to happen at the Arsenal of old (via ESPN).
“We’d have just shown them the door. ‘If you don’t want to play, then go’.
“If a player doesn’t want to play for you, leave them go: it happened with Michael Thomas 18 months after he scored (the title-winning goal against Liverpool) in ’89.”
While accepting that football has changed, Dixon’s stance is one mirrored by plenty of Arsenal fans. The body language, work rate and attitude of both players has come under constant scrutiny from multiple angles in the press, but the BBC and ITV pundit attributes what has become a growing problem in football to the unprecedented power of agents:
“If a player doesn’t want to stay somewhere, yes, agents and players manipulate situations – and clubs do, in order to get the best deal for the parties concerned – but in general, if you don’t want to go there, and you don’t want to stay, then you will be ousted from the environment and dressing room pretty quickly.”
Sanchez and Ozil have nowhere to hide from the noise whilst constantly in the teamsheet, and given the aggression and passion which were a regular fixture in the Arsenal sides of the 1990s and early 2000s, few could disagree with Dixon’s philosophy that the duo are replaceable and their attitudes toward playing for the club should not be tolerated.
There is also a danger that the situation is affecting morale in the dressing room and the hostile atmosphere at the stadium – something that Dixon was keen to point out.
“Players work out whether you want to be there or not, and certainly fans do when they see your performances on the pitch.”
There is no denying that the standards of performance from both players have not been up to their usual highs as of late – and we could quite easily picture Martin Keown, Tony Adams and Patrick Vieira voicing their disgust.
One thing is for certain; the Ozil-Sanchez situation needs to be addressed with more urgency, before things get even more hostile at the Emirates ahead of their crunch North London Derby with Tottenham after the international break.
Jordan Norris, Pundit Arena