Arsene Wenger will refuse to sell Alexis Sanchez to Chelsea if the Premier League champions-elect move for the Chile forward in the summer as the chances of Arsenal selling their best players to their rivals is “not the case anymore”.
Arsenal have in the past allowed key players leave the club, with the likes of Cesc Fabregas, Samir Nasri and Robin van Persie among those who have gone on to greater things once they have left the Gunners.
The exodus came at a time when Arsenal were still paying off the debt incurred from building the Emirates Stadium, but with those repayments now completed, Arsenal find themselves as one of the strongest clubs financially in world football, which, Wenger believes, will help them keep hold of key players like Sanchez and Mesut Özil, both of whom are out of contract at the end of the 2017/18 season.
“It happened before when we had to sell our best players,” Wenger said at his pre-match press conference on Thursday ahead of this weekend’s Premier League visit of Manchester City.
“But that’s not the case anymore. He has one and half years [left on his] contract. I don’t think it is an immediate concern for Arsenal.”
The Arsenal manager addressed an interview that Sanchez gave back in his homeland while on international duty this week in which he suggested that he is happy to run down his contract and leave the club on a free transfer. Links with Premier League rivals Chelsea quickly emerged from the interview, but a mistranslation appeared to suggest he was angling for a move to Stamford Bridge, something that he did not actually hint at.
Asked about the interview, Wenger reiterated his desire to see both him and Özil stay at the club, though neither are close to extending their current deals.
“Once you go into the final two or three months of the season, everybody is focused on the season,” Wenger added. “You give yourself a moment to relax. I personally believe both of them want to stay.
“I hope the club will find an agreement with them.”
One criticism of Arsenal this season has been that the squad is not strong enough to challenge for the Premier League, with Wenger not having enough players of the quality of Sanchez and Özil at his disposal.
It’s something that the Arsenal manager actually appeared to agree with, as he confirmed that plans are already in place for this summer’s transfer window to try and strengthen the squad without losing their two best players.
“It [the squad] is a very strong basis, but the team needs to be strengthened, of course,” he added.