LONDON • Rocked by Arsenal's humiliating 4-0 defeat at Liverpool last weekend, Arsene Wenger faces a series of damaging transfer window defections that threaten to derail his football team's already chaotic season.
With the transfer deadline looming at 10pm GMT today (6am tomorrow, Singapore time), the Arsenal manager finds himself mired in a mess as Alexis Sanchez and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain headline a host of Arsenal stars trying to flee the troubled outfit.
Forward Sanchez is desperate to move to Manchester City after rejecting Arsenal's offer of £300,000 (S$526,000) a week to extend a contract which will expire at the end of the season.
The Chilean, who angered fans when he was pictured smirking on the Arsenal bench during the Liverpool rout, is reported to have asked to be excused from training with Chile today while negotiations over his future heat up.
City are said to have offered their England winger Raheem Sterling plus cash in a bid to convince Wenger to part ways with his prized asset. The Frenchman reportedly countered by asking City to include Sergio Aguero as a makeweight in the deal. But, while City manager Pep Guardiola has shown signs of losing faith in the Argentinian striker, it would be a surprise if he is allowed to join Arsenal.
City would prefer a straight cash deal for Sanchez, but are believed to be willing to compromise by including Sterling and officials would fly to Chile to sort out terms and a medical check before the deadline.
Last-minute transfer scramble
Other major deals that could go through before the transfer window closes.
1. DANNY DRINKWATER (Leicester City to Chelsea)
Chelsea want Drinkwater, but are reluctant to pay Leicester's £40 million (S$70 million) asking price.
2.. ROSS BARKLEY (Everton to Chelsea)
Everton have set a £50 million price tag on the midfielder, who has become surplus to requirements following their capture of Gylfi Sigurdsson.
3. SERGE AURIER (Paris Saint-Germain to Tottenham )
A switch has been held up while the 24-year-old defender appeals a conviction for assaulting a police officer last year, but Spurs are hopeful of completing the deal before today's deadline.
4. PHILIPPE COUTINHO (Liverpool to Barcelona)
Barcelona have had three bids, the latest of which was said to be £118 million, for Coutinho rejected by Liverpool in recent weeks, but there is a sense that any potential move is not dead just yet.
5. DIEGO COSTA (Chelsea to Everton, loan)
A potential loan move until January to Everton is said to be in the offing - Costa would then return to Atletico Madrid once they are allowed to register new players in January.
THE TIMES, LONDON
England winger Oxlade-Chamberlain has also snubbed Wenger's attempts to persuade him to sign a £180,000-a-week extension.
And, with his deal also running out in June, he is reported to have turned down the chance to join Chelsea for a £35 million fee.
Yesterday, West Brom signed Arsenal left-back Kieran Gibbs for £7 million, while Shkodran Mustafi, Jack Wilshere and Mathieu Debuchy could also be sold.
After a miserable first season with Arsenal, Lucas Perez has been told he can leave and the Spanish striker hopes to return home, with Levante interested.
Wenger will try to offset those potential losses with some last-ditch shopping of his own with West Brom defender Jonny Evans and Paris Saint-Germain winger Julian Draxler among his mooted targets.
For Arsenal to be in such a panicked state is a huge blow to Wenger just three months after an FA Cup final triumph against Chelsea that the 67-year-old hoped would herald a new era of sustained success.
The craven manner of Arsenal's capitulation at Anfield, coming just a week after a disappointing defeat at Stoke, laid bare all the flaws that Wenger has been unable to fix in recent years.
Without a Premier League title in 13 years and absent from the Champions League this season following last term's fifth-place finish, Arsenal are no longer a marquee destination for the sport's top stars.
And former Arsenal star Ian Wright has seen enough, claiming it is time for his old boss to step down.
"The amount of things that are going wrong, it does come back to Arsene Wenger's door," he told the BBC. "We're three games in and we're literally at crisis point.
"Do I think he should go? I would like him to go simply because I do not believe now that Arsene Wenger can motivate those players with everything that's going on above him."
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, THE TIMES, LONDON