Lee Dixon insists that the Arsenal teams he played in would have “shown the door” to Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil in response to their refusal to commit to the club.
Concerns persist that the highest-profile players in Arsene Wenger’s squad will leave as free agents when their contracts expire at the end of the season.
Both continue to feature regularly despite the fact their futures have long been uncertain, and after reports Sanchez attempted to leave for Manchester City before the summer transfer window’s conclusion and that Ozil will eventually join Manchester United.
Dixon, 53, was influential in some of Arsenal’s finest teams under Wenger and George Graham, and for the latter when football was significantly different to what it has become.
He regardless does not believe that attitudes towards a player’s commitment should have changed, and he told Press Association 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.”
Alan Smith and David O’Leary were among Dixon’s team-mates in the team of 1989 that Arsenal’s supporters remember so fondly.
While Smith believes Sanchez and Ozil are “fully entitled” to wind their contracts down, both he and O’Leary questioned the club’s judgement for again being in that position after selling Robin van Persie in similar circumstances in 2012.
“If somebody doesn’t want to be there and wants to wind their contract down, that’s within their right,” Smith, 54, told Press Association Sport.
“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 £60million 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.”
The 59-year-old O’Leary added: “They were in a similar situation – I don’t know why they got in a similar situation – with Van Persie. He was in the last year of his contract; they sold him because he had a year left, and were accused of taking the money.
“We’ve been told they turned down the Sanchez money. I definitely thought that £60million on the table: you know the player’s going to leave, you’d end up taking it.”