It’s a question we have faced many times as a club before but, until now, we have never really had much of a choice when it has boiled down to money or principle.
In the case of Alexis Sanchez, however, and against the cash-rich backdrop of today’s Premier League, we find ourselves with a few more options now than we have ever had before. In short, we are no longer compelled to sell our best players in order to balance the books.
That doesn’t necessarily mean that running down a player’s contract is wise, however, particularly when there is value to be earned from moving that player on.
I appreciate, therefore, that while the club has more options than it has done in the past, it is, ironically, much harder to reach the right conclusion now than it has ever been.
I will just add that the Chilean’s future has not yet been definitively decided and he may yet decide to sign a new contract at Arsenal. If he does so, that renders all this commentary and speculation utterly moot, and wouldn’t that be a wondrous thing?
The perceived wisdom is, however, that he will ask to leave this summer, with either Manchester City of Bayern Munich his most likely destinations.
Obviously, if he absolutely insisted on leaving, and was prepared to sulk for the remaining 12 months of his contract if forced to stay, I would have no hesitation in moving him on to Munich.
I would like to think, however, that the 28-year-old loves the game too much to sit idly on the bench all season, in his peak years, in order to prove a point.
The one outcome that must not be allowed to transpire, of course, is the sale of Sanchez to Manchester City. It would take a bid in excess of £60million, in my view, before that possibility would even be entertained, and even then it would have to be an introductory offer.
Strengthening our rivals is something we have done time and again in the past, in our more debt-laden days, and it is a bitter experience and one we should avoid repeating at all costs.
At the same time, do we risk letting Sanchez join City in 12 months time, without the ability to stop him, and without any money changing hands?
I believe we should take that risk. I think we should be prepared to stick to our principles if the player actively pushes for a move to Manchester. If nothing else, we can afford to now.
Alexis told reporters ahead of the Confederations Cup final that, in his mind, his future was clear and so I believe things will move pretty quickly after this weekend’s final is settled, when he makes his way back to London.
Above all else, I hope Arsenal make him an outstanding offer and he decides to sign on for another few years but, if his wish is to move on, then I hope Arsene Wenger and the board act quickly in a manner that ensures the club makes the best of a bad situation.
The protracted situation around Arsene’s contract renewal was appallingly handled by all concerned and I hope the club has learned from that.
If we take a tough line and ask Alexis to fulfil the terms of his contract, then let’s make that clear from as early as we can reasonably do so. What we don’t want is a pre-season campaign tarnished with ifs and buts and ‘will-he, won’t he’ stories dominating the back pages and affecting the squad.
But if we really feel as though we have no choice but to sell him, get Bayern on the phone and get the deal signed off and completed in double time. Use the money elsewhere and build for the new campaign. Nothing is forever and in the modern game and we must be hard-nosed and pragmatic about it.
After all we have learned over the years, and all the talented players we have seen come and go, however, it is time we showed a little backbone and a little more wisdom. We are no longer the feeder club we once were and it would be a good time for the club to take a little of the control back that is has lost over the years. We won’t be bullied so easily this time around and so I hope, therefore, that whatever the outcome, it will mark a new chapter for Arsenal as a club.