Sanchez has just over one year left on his Arsenal contract and while he appears to be in no rush to sign a new one, Wenger insisted that the Chilean forward does, in fact, want to stay. He even said Sanchez has “the desire to find an agreement” on a new deal at the club.
It was the most confident Wenger has sounded yet about the future of his best player: “I don’t think you would sell him to any Premier League club,” Wenger said, “that is for sure”.
While all of the indications have pointed to Sanchez being sold this summer, Wenger insisted that he would not be. Even if means running the risk of losing Sanchez on a free transfer in the summer of 2018.
Of course, Wenger does not think that will happen, or at least he does not want to publicly discuss the possibility. He boldly predicted that Sanchez would, despite everything, sign a new improved contract at Arsenal.
The only issue, he said, was contractual, which made Wenger optimistic a deal could be reached. It sounded optimistic in the extreme but then Wenger’s optimism has already been vindicated once this week, at Wembley on Sunday.
Asked why he could be so confident that Sanchez would sign a new deal, Wenger said: “First of all that he is happy here. His desire is as well to stay. That is what I deeply believe. The disagreements are more purely contractual. Not on the desire. Both parties have the desire to find an agreement, so I think it will happen.”
Whatever happens between Arsenal and Sanchez there will certainly be big offers for him this summer, most likely from City, Chelsea and Paris Saint Germain. The prospect of offers between £40million and £50million for a player with one year of his contract left would certainly be attractive to many, including some at Arsenal.
But Wenger insisted he did not see it that way. “I don’t think that you would sell him to any Premier League club, that is for sure,” he said. “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.”
It all sounded very brave, but what about the money? Wenger said that Arsenal are “not in this situation at the moment”. He pointed to the fact that player transfer fees are amortised over the length of their contracts in Arsenal’s accounts.
Sanchez’s £32m fee is spread over four years, meaning that this summer he will still have a remaining ‘book value’ of £8m. If Arsenal were to sell him, that £8m would be subtracted in their accounts from the fee they received.
Then of course there is the fact that replacing Sanchez with equivalent quality would be even more expensive than selling him. Financially it would make far more sense to give Sanchez a big new pay rise rather than sell him and replace him with a more expensive alternative. The problem is getting Sanchez to sign up.
“You amortise a transfer during the length of the contract,” Wenger explained. “So when you pay an amount of money, when he signs four years for every year you deduct 25 per cent of [the fee]. The problem as well that you always have to analyse firstly is: 'Can you find better? For what kind of money?'
“The inflation is so big that sometimes today even mathematically there can be advantages to keep a player until the end of a contract.”
The counterpoint to all of this is the fact that five years ago, with Robin van Persie in the last year of his contract, Wenger said that he would keep him, but sold him to Manchester United in the end anyway. Wenger said that the Sanchez and Van Persie situations are “a bit different”, as Van Persie was older when Wenger sold him than Sanchez will be this summer.
Wenger has been told by enough people that Sanchez would be impossible to replace although he knows it is not always that simple. “People always say that,” Wenger said. “Because, for example, we let a guy like Van Persie go, who was absolutely irreplaceable, as well. And after we scored more goals.”
Not that Wenger wants to admit he is even countenancing the possibly of Sanchez going.