Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez would have been “shown the door” had they formed part of great Arsenal teams of the past, says Lee Dixon.
Both men continue to provide an unwelcome distraction at Emirates Stadium, with their respective contracts running down.
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With neither having committed to fresh terms, speculation regarding their future continues to rumble on – with Sanchez still being heavily linked with Manchester City while Ozil is mooted as a possible January target for United.
Dixon believes Arsene Wenger should now be looking to move any disruptive influences out, with title-chasing teams throughout Arsenal’s history having shown that no player can be allowed to think that they are more important than the club.
A man who captured top-flight crowns with the Gunners under George Graham and Wenger told PA Sport: “We’d have just shown them the door. ‘If you don’t want to play, then go.’ That’s not changed.
“If a player doesn’t want to play for you … it happened with Michael Thomas 18 months after he scored [the title-winning goal against Liverpool] in ’89, he was in dispute with the club or George about money. He ended up going in similar circumstances and signing with Liverpool.
“It’s no different. 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.
“Players work out whether you want to be there or not, and certainly fans do when they see your performances on the pitch.”
Another former Gunner, Alan Smith, has also questioned Arsenal’s handling of Ozil and Alexis, with big money having been turned down for the latter during the summer transfer window.
He added: “If somebody doesn’t want to be there and wants to wind their contract down, that’s within their right.
“It’s up to the manager then and how he handles that.
“Arsenal have a track record of allowing players to run down contracts, and these two are going to be the biggest examples. They could have got £60 million for Alexis Sanchez; Arsene and the club turned it down.
“Ozil’s a slightly different kettle of fish but it might well be that they do lose those two players. I’d be more concerned about Sanchez going than Ozil.”