Arsène Wenger will not break Arsenal wage structure for Alexis Sánchez

David Hytner
Alexis Sánchez has become frustrated as the form of Arsène Wenger’s Arsenal side has disintegrated. Photograph: BPI/Rex/Shutterstock

Arsène Wenger has told Alexis Sánchez he will not be held to ransom by the forward’s wage demands and nor will he jeopardise the unity of the Arsenal dressing room by caving in to them.

Sánchez will enter the final year on his contract this summer and he is in a strong negotiating position. The 28-year-old is wanted by a clutch of clubs who are a part of Europe’s financial elite – namely, Chelsea, Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain – and he has an offer from an unnamed Chinese club worth £400,000 a week.

Sánchez’s advisers have used it as leverage in their talks with Arsenal, who have agreed a deal to sign Schalke’s highly-rated Bosnia left-back Sead Kolasinac on a free transfer in the summer after the player appeared to be on his way to Everton. “It certainly contributes to the imagination of the players,” Wenger said on the notion of whether the Chinese Super League had inflated the market.

Wenger was asked whether the Arsenal dressing room would be destabilised if one of the players earned such a massive salary. “Always,” he replied, “but we must also accept that modern life has changed a little bit. We always had a wage schedule that was respected but players earn so much money now that the cases have become much more individual than global.

“You have many different opinions. Some people tell me: ‘Just give him what he wants.’ But then you cannot respect any more any wage structure and you put the club in trouble as well. You have to make the decision in an objective way. The club always has to be the priority. I understand top players are a big priority but, even for important players, you can only pay as much as you can afford.”

Sánchez has become increasingly frustrated as Arsenal’s form has disintegrated and the nightmare for the club would be if he refused to sign a new contract and insisted that he wanted to join Chelsea or Manchester City in the summer. With more than one club interested, a bidding war could develop that would push the fee to a high level. Arsenal would have to accept it or risk getting nothing for him in the summer of 2018.

Wenger was clear he did not see the emerging Chinese league as an option for Sánchez, who is Arsenal’s top scorer this season with 22 goals in all competitions and has been named on the short-list for the PFA’s player of the year award.

“Every club and every player has to make decisions,” Wenger said. “Where are your priorities? Where do you want to play? The first priority for top players is to play with the best players and in the best league. After that, it is not about choosing to go to China because you earn big money. You make big money in England as well. You have the best combination of playing at the top and big money is in England, at the moment. So, for me, China is not a debate.”

Wenger said that Petr Cech (calf) and Laurent Koscielny (achilles) had an 80% chance of being fit for the trip to Middlesbrough on Monday, when Arsenal will attempt to stop a run of four successive away defeats in the Premier League. They have conceded three goals in each of them.

By using Yahoo you agree that Yahoo and partners may use Cookies for personalisation and other purposes