Alexis Sanchez going nowhere, insists Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger
Chile striker has not made pre-season trip to Australia after Confederation’s Cup exploits amid exit rumours
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger on Tuesday insisted unsettled striker Alexis Sanchez is going nowhere, saying he expected him honour his contract and potentially sign an extension.
The Chilean, 28, has a year left on his Gunners deal but is yet to sign a new contract and has been linked with a move to Bayern Munich and Manchester City.
Reports in Britain have said he could be offloaded for up to £80 million (HK$805 million).
“The players have contracts and we expect them to respect their contracts. That’s what we want,” he said in Sydney about the striker.
Asked if he remained determined to keep Sanchez and not let him go to a Premier League rival, Wenger replied: “Yes, that is a continuation of what I said at the end of the season. That’s what we will do.
“He adds great value to the squad and I think as well he is a great lover of the club.”
Sanchez, who at times last season cut a disgruntled figure as Arsenal struggled with form and uncertainty over Wenger’s future, is not on the team’s pre-season tour to Australia as he rests after last month’s Confederation’s Cup.
But Wenger said reports that the Chilean ace had informed him that he wanted to leave the club were not true, replying with a curt “No”.
He added: “I think the easiest way to manage a player is in the final year of his contract. It is in his interest to do as well as he can.
“Nobody knows today if Sanchez will be on his final year of his contract next season, because he can extend his contract with us at the start of the season or during the season.
“So it is not necessarily the last year of his contract at Arsenal Football Club.”
Arsenal play two pre-season friendlies in Sydney FC this week, against Sydney FC on Thursday and Western Sydney Wanderers on Saturday.
Wenger, meanwhile, said Arsenal are keen on in-demand Monaco teenager Kylian Mbappe, while Wenger confirmed club-record signing Alexandre Lacazette will make his debut on their pre-season tour of Australia.
The 18-year-old Mbappe has reportedly been the subject of world record offers from Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain, and has also been linked with Manchester United.
“He’s a player who when he gets up in the morning can choose where he wants to go. Not many players have that kind of luck,” the veteran Frenchman said.
“He is just 18 years of age and it is all of Europe who has the red carpet out for him. I believe nobody can say he is not interested in a player of that kind because he has such immense quality at 18 that all the clubs are open and interested in him.”
Wenger is also said to be keen on Mbappe’s Monaco teammate Thomas Lemar as a supporting attacker to Lacazette, whose move from Lyon to the Gunners was sealed last week for a club-record fee that could rise to €60 million (HK$533 million).
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“That’s all speculation at the moment, there is nothing really concrete about any signing. He’s a player that we have looked at, but the rest is only speculation,” he said.
Wenger did say he was hoping to entice more players to the Emirates before the new season starts.
“I’m open to get some more signings, but it’s not easy to find the players to strengthen our squad because we have top quality players,” he said.
“There’s two ways to improve – analyse what we did well last year and what we did not do well, and improve on that. And the second way is to bring some new players in.
“But I believe at the moment, because we are on pre-season, that it is very important for us to analyse what happened last year and where we can improve. At the moment I focus more on that.”
Lacazette, who is hoping his move to Arsenal can help boost his hopes of cementing a place in the France squad ahead of next year’s World Cup, will make his debut against Sydney on Thursday.
“Lacazette will make his debut here, yes,” Wenger said, adding that fellow new signing Sead Kolasinac would also appear.
Arsene Wenger applauds master of invention Alexis Sanchez as Gunners confirm their place in the Champions League shoot-out
“We play football based on movement, technical qualities and mobility, and I believe that both of the new signings can integrate well into the team.
“One is a defender who can play on the flank and centrally, and one is a striker with a very good goal scoring record, so I believe that they are great additions to the team.
“It’s a good opportunity as well to have a first look at how well and how quickly they will integrate with the way we want to play.”