Arsenal must move on from Ozil and Sanchez by nailing January window
Although the January transfer window is still a little under three months away, Arsenal should be thinking about what they can do during that period.
Not simply to boost the squad in the short-term, but to demonstrate the kind of ambition and focus on the future that will help them in the long-term.
As it stands, it looks as if Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez will not sign new deals. If that is the case, the idea of selling them in January has to be considered, but in reality it won't be easy.
With both players set to take full advantage of the Bosman ruling by leaving in June when their contracts expire, it will be almost impossible for Arsenal to move them on unless the deals on offer are acceptable to the German and Chilean stars.
With the promise of a large signing on fee paid over the course of their contract at a new club, it'd be a surprise if they eschewed that for a potentially less lucrative January move. Either way, the likelihood of them playing in North London next season is very slim.
It means that Arsenal have to come to terms with the loss of their two superstars, the two players who were signed to take them to the next level. Bringing in top players from Real Madrid and Barcelona was a change of policy, and it's easy to forget the excitement generated by the £42.5 million Ozil deal in particular.
It felt seismic for the Gunners to have smashed their transfer record in that way, and when his arrival was followed by that of Sanchez a year later, it should have been the start of something. In typical fashion, though, the club rested on its laurels and although subsequent signings may commanded similar fees, they lacked the same quality.
Last season's fifth place finish was enough for Sanchez, who made it clear he wanted to go, although to his credit he never kicked up publicly -- even after the convoluted and dismally handled end to the transfer window when his move to Manchester City fell through because Arsenal left it too late to try and sign Thomas Lemar from Monaco. Ozil, meanwhile, has had no discussions over extending his contract since early 2017.
Beyond the two players, Arsenal have to consider those currently at the club who will be wondering if they should commit themselves to new deals. Danny Welbeck and Aaron Ramsey, for example, might think their ambitions would be best served elsewhere. There's also the impact it will have on summer recruitment.
The departure of the two highest profile players from any club would make any transfer targets think twice. They'll wonder why they wanted to move on, and what it says about the way the club is being run. It's not quite a house of cards, but there's clearly a ripple effect when quality like Sanchez and Ozil leave.
One way to counter that is to start future proofing now, not next summer. Of course the January window is not the optimum time to do business, but money talks and Arsenal have plenty at their disposal.
The financial results released at the end of September show a large cash balance, and while not all of that money is available to spend, it's estimated they could splash out anywhere between £70-90m should they so decide.
It may not be a huge amount, but it should be enough to bring in Lemar if they go back in for him. The deal at the end of August didn't go through because it was so last-minute, so with greater preparation to convince both the player and the selling club, it should be doable.
An arrival of that stature would not only be an indication they're planning for life without Ozil and Sanchez, it would reinvigorate the mood around the club. It's all very flat at the moment, seats remain unfilled at every home game, and everybody -- from players to fans -- could do with a spark.
Not only that, it would go some way to convincing players to extend their deals, and when it comes to the summer you have the lure of playing alongside top talent for potential new recruits.
Of course there's a lot to contend with between now and then. The team has to continue its recovery from a poor start to the season and remain competitive, but Arsenal need to consider their strategy very carefully.
If they continue to stand still, things could become much more difficult to fix.
Andrew Mangan is one of ESPN FC's Arsenal bloggers. You can follow him on Twitter: @arseblog.