Bullish Wenger 'convinced' Sanchez will stay at Arsenal
Arsene Wenger has delivered his most bullish statement yet on the future of Alexis Sanchez by declaring that he is now "convinced" Arsenal will reach an agreement to keep their star striker.
Sanchez has 18 months remaining on his contract and has been in on-off negotiations about a new deal for most of the past year and, while Wenger says there is "a line" that Arsenal will not cross, he now fully expects an agreement.
"Alexis Sanchez is a committed player who wants to stay," said the Arsenal manager. "I'm convinced we'll find an agreement. It has to be in our potential."
Negotiations are also ongoing with Mesut Ozil and, although the club are ready to break their previous wage structure and pay their two star players more than £200,000-a-week, around double that amount is potentially on offer in China. "It always starts with money, it finishes with money and in between the players want to stay or want to go," Wenger told beIN SPORTS.
"We can certainly find an agreement. I think no matter what happens we'll try to keep them and we'll go as high as we can. You cannot put the club in jeopardy for the players.
"We are not scared to spend the money, and we are not scared to show the players we love them and we want them to earn big money but we have to have a line of conduct. What is absolutely fantastic for the players today is the club for me is about identity, about values."
The likelihood of winning trophies is also sure to be in the minds of both Sanchez and Ozil, who will be rested against Preston North End at Deepdale in the FA Cup today.
Santi Cazorla and club captain Per Mertesacker are also absent following surgery but Wenger has said that he intends to keep these two senior players for at least another season.
Mertesacker, 32, is back running again but still around four weeks from potential first-team selection after his comeback following summer surgery on his knee cartilage was delayed by a calf injury. Cazorla, who is also 32, is still not back training outside following his ankle surgery.
Asked if the injury situation would affect whether their contracts are extended when they expire this summer, Wenger said: "No. We have an option on both of them and I think we will take it. The priority first is football but as well for their mental guidance. We need to have a balance between youth and experience and they are important in that."
Cazorla's absence in midfield has been compounded by the loss of Francis Coquelin with a hamstring injury for around a month, as well as Mohamed Elneny's involvement in the Africa Cup of Nations.
It has left Aaron Ramsey and Granit Xhaka as the only senior fit central midfielders, but Wenger said that he is still happy that Jack Wilshere will spend a full season on loan at Bournemouth. "I could use him now but if he had not played, he would not be ready to play," insisted Wenger.
"What looks unfair is that you know at some stage you could need the player.
"But, even at the start, you need to have the right balance between competition and numbers and chances for the player to play. And still today I think it was the right decision for him to go."
Wenger added it was only "season-long loans" in the Premier league when, in fact, you can do deals between transfer windows. It means that Arsenal could have tried to insist on an option to bring Wilshere back this month. (© Daily Telegraph, London)
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