Having made a light-hearted joke about Alexis Sanchez’s midweek comments, Arsene Wenger then got hardline. The Arsenal manager intimated that Chelsea will have a tough fight if they want to buy the Chilean, because his club now have the resources to resist any bid.
While on international duty, Sanchez - who has only a year and a half left on his contract - had said he wants to stay in London but at a team “with a winning mentality”, amid growing speculation about interest from Chelsea.
Wenger had initially joked about this saying he interpreted it in “a very positive way” because “there’s only one team in London so he’s happy!” but then got went serious.
It was put to the 67-year-old that he had lost big players to rivals in the past, like Ashley Cole to Chelsea, Samir Nasri to Manchester City and of course Robin van Persie to Manchester United.
“That is true that it happened before when we were in positions where we had to sell financially our best players,” Wenger said. That’s not the case anymore.
“Look, he has one-and-a-half years left on his contract. I don’t think it’s an immediate concern to Arsenal Football Club.”
Wenger also re-iterated his belief that Sanchez is content at the club, despite the fact his contract runs out in summer 2018.
“I have not a lot to add. I think personally he’s happy here,” he said. “It’s true that we have not extended his contract yet. I hope that he will stay at the club but overall I think you have as well to be very cautious when people give interviews in their home countries.
“As you said, the interpretation is not always exactly what they wanted to say. I don’t see anything in that - he said he wants to win the championship, that’s what everybody wants. I can understand that completely.”
The growing feeling is that Sanchez will push to move in the summer, with Paris Saint-Germain and Juventus having previously been seen as the prime candidates. Chelsea may test that, despite Arsenal's unwillingness to sell to a rival, given how much the 28-year-old's energetic approach fits Antonio Conte's game.