Arsène Wenger: Alexis Sánchez will stay at Arsenal if he rejects new deal

David Hytner
The Guardian
Arsène Wenger: Alexis Sánchez not for sale even if he rejects new Arsenal deal
Arsène Wenger: Alexis Sánchez not for sale even if he rejects new Arsenal deal

Arsène Wenger says there is no chance Alexis Sánchez will leave Arsenal this summer and said he is prepared to run the risk of losing the forward on a free transfer next year.

Sánchez is wanted by Chelsea and Manchester City, as well as other clubs in Europe, and his situation has parallels to that of the former Arsenal striker Robin van Persie in 2012.

Van Persie finished the 2011-12 season with 12 months to run on his Arsenal contract and, having made it clear he would not sign a new one, forced through a £24m move to Manchester United. He had just turned 29 and in his first season at Old Trafford he scored 26 Premier League goals to help the club win the title.

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Sánchez was 28 in December and talks over renewed terms at Arsenal have been put on hold until the end of the season. Wenger said he is convinced Sánchez would re-sign but if he does not, the manager promised there will be no repeat of the Van Persie situation.

“If he doesn’t sign a new deal, will I make him stay? Yes,” Wenger said. “Would I rather keep him than sell him to a Premier League rival? Yes. I don’t think you would sell him to any Premier League club, that is for sure. Why not? The question is more why would you sell him to another Premier League club? You want to be as strong as you can be and not strengthen the other teams.

“I think he will sign and stay because, first of all, he is happy here. His desire is to stay. That is what I deeply believe. The disagreements are purely contractual – not on the desire. Both parties have the desire to find an agreement, so I think it will happen.”

Wenger sought to make the financial case for keeping Sánchez for another season and, possibly, losing out on a transfer fee of £40m-50m.

He talked about how Sánchez’s value had to be considered over the length of his four-year contract; he cost £32m from Barcelona, meaning he would have a remaining book value of £8m next season, which would have to be set against what the club might make from his transfer.

“You amortise a transfer during the length of the contract,” Wenger said. “So, when you pay an amount of money and when the player signs a four-year contract, you deduct every year 25% of a contract. The problem that you have to analyse, always, is: ‘Can you find better? For what kind of money?’ The inflation is so big that sometimes, even mathematically, there can be advantages to keep a player until the end of a contract.”

Arsenal will also see Mesut Özil and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, among others, enter the final 12 months of their contracts this summer and he continued to be confident about resolving those situations. “It will all be decided in the summer,” he said.

Sánchez scored the winner in Sunday’s FA Cup semi-final against Manchester City to take his total for the season to 24 goals in all competitions and Wenger talked about the forward’s capacity to “always turn up with something special”.

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He added: “It’s strange because I feel he always grows during the game. The difficulty of the game always makes him more focused. He starts sometimes and has problems to get into the game but he becomes stronger and more determined. He adapts to the difficulty. He tests and he finds the way to become dangerous. He has the individual quality to make the difference.”

Wenger did not attempt to hide the emotional lift that the extra-time victory had provided. Arsenal play Leicester City at the Emirates Stadium in the Premier League on Wednesday, trailing fourth-placed Manchester City by seven points, albeit with a game in hand, and he accepted they might need to win all seven of their remaining fixtures to qualify for the Champions League.

“The semi-final win will convince everybody that with the right energy levels and the right fighting spirit, the right togetherness we can beat everybody,” Wenger said. “Winning each of our final games has to be the target. We have to transfer the energy level we showed on Sunday to the Premier League. The top four is open to us but it demands consistency. That means we’ll maybe have to have the perfect run-in.”

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