Arsène Wenger says he has made a financial “sacrifice” in deciding to risk losing Alexis Sánchez on a free transfer next summer, with Arsenal’s sporting prospects coming ahead of any off-pitch concerns.
Sánchez is likely to depart without a fee unless a new contract is agreed with the club – a situation that Wenger admits has not progressed. There has been interest in the forward from a number of other clubs in pre-season but Wenger has weighed up the pros and cons of retaining him and resolved that the football benefits he brings outweigh any potential transfer fee.
“At the moment no, because we have not progressed on that front,” Wenger said when asked whether Sánchez will sign a new deal. “He is a player who goes into the final year of his contract and prepares for the season.”
Pressed on whether that means he was willing to let the Chile international depart for nothing, Wenger continued: “That is a consequence of what I say, yes, unfortunately. But we have to make a choice between efficiency on the field and financial interest, and most of the time if you can find a good compromise it’s better. But in this case, I think I prioritise the fact that he will be useful on the sporting side.”
He admitted it was not a perfect state of affairs but left the door open for Sánchez to sign a contract that has been on the table since last season.
“Look, let’s not be wrong, it’s not an ideal situation on the financial side and it demands some sacrifice,” he said. “But first of all it doesn’t mean the players who are in the final year of their contract will not extend their contract. You have still that possibility and we work on that as well.”
Sánchez has not featured for Arsenal since last season and is currently recovering from an abdominal strain that will rule him out of Saturday’s match at Stoke. He is not the only player to have been heavily linked with a move away from the club, with Chelsea reported to be interested in Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Wenger was unequivocal that the England midfielder will still be at the club at the end of the season, saying he is at the start of a big phase in his career.
“Because I rate him highly and he’s one of the players who is on his way up,” said Wenger of his reasons for discouraging interest in the Oxlade-Chamberlain. “In the last year he has made huge progress and personally I want him to stay here for a long time. I’m convinced he will be the English player that everybody will look at in the next two years.”
Wenger also confirmed that he intends to keep Jack Wilshere at the club despite the fact that the midfielder is another player who has entered the last year of his contract. “I think I plan for him to be here for the whole season, after we will see at the end of the season,” he said.
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