Robert Pires has stated his belief that Arsene Wenger's contractual situation at Arsenal is of greater importance than the club keeping hold of Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil.
In comments which are bound to upset Gunners fans - as published by the Independent - the former 'Invincibles' star claimed that Wenger needed to be retained ahead of the 2017/18 season.
Both Sanchez and Ozil will enter the final 12 months of their deals once the current campaign ends, and rumours throughout the season had hinted that the duo could depart North London if the club doesn't bow to their astronomical wage demands.
Pires said that he would like to see the Chile and Germany internationals remain with Arsenal too, but the Frenchman insisted that his compatriot's future was more pressing than his two stars due to his contract expiring in just three months' time.
He said: “I hope for him (Sanchez) and Ozil they extend with new contracts. The negotiation is very difficult and maybe complicated.
“But the most important is to see Arsene Wenger extend. Arsene Wenger is very, very important for Arsenal for now and for next season.
“I believe in Arsene Wenger. For me it was a privilege to work with him for six seasons. He was not perfect but he was good, we won some titles.”
Wenger recently told reporters that they would "find out soon" about where his future lies as gossip columns go into overdrive over whether the 67-year-old will stay or go.
The Arsenal boss has a two-year contract extension sitting on the table waiting to be signed but, after some horrendous results since the turn of the year and fierce criticism from the Gunners fanbase, it remains to be seen whether Wenger will extend his two decade long stay with the club.
Arsene Wenger managing Arsenal in 2047... pic.twitter.com/OGHZInrNGt— BenchWarmers (@BeWarmers) March 22, 2017
Contrasting banners were flown above the Hawthorns during Arsenal's 3-1 defeat to West Bromwich Albion in the Premier League on March 18 as Wenger continues to divide large swathes of Arsenal supporters, but the more vociferous factions have seen enough and are demanding that the ex-Nagoya Grampus manager be let go to make way for fresh ideas and a new era.
Ozil's future at Arsenal is believed to be dictated by whether Wenger decides to stay or depart, while Sanchez has increasingly looked like leaving England's capital after growing frustrated at the lack of trophies secured during his time with Arsenal.
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