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Thursday 22 February 2018

Arsene Wenger tells Arsenal fans not to panic over Alexis and Ozil's contracts

Arsene Wenger is approaching 20 years as manager of Arsenal.
Arsene Wenger is approaching 20 years as manager of Arsenal.

Arsene Wenger has told Arsenal supporters not to be concerned by the news key duo Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez are yet to agree new deals with the club.

The pair have less than two years to run on their respective contracts and talks have been taking place for some time, but Wenger admitted on the eve of the new Premier League season that there was no update to offer.

As the Gunners go into the new campaign with a lack of defensive options, Wenger is also fielding questions on his front line.

Per Mertesacker and Gabriel are both facing long spells on the sidelines, while fellow centre-back Laurent Koscielny has not played in pre-season after reaching the final of Euro 2016 with France.

But Wenger would also not be drawn into revealing if the club were closing in on a deal to bring in Valencia's Shkodran Mustafi, with the 24-year-old Germany international linked with a move to the Emirates, or on Ozil and Sanchez.

Asked if he had an update on the contract negotiations of Sanchez and club-record signing Ozil, he replied: "No. We keep that internal. We make progress always, but it is not always a quick process. They still have two years contract and there is no urgency as well.

"They (Arsenal fans) have no reason to be concerned. At the moment we have priorities, and most of the time contract extensions are done outside the win because it gives you a bit more time and focus on that."

Asked about the potential signing of defender Mustafi, Wenger simply said: "I cannot tell you."

The Frenchman admitted after Mertesacker's injury that he needed to go back into the market for a new defender, despite adding Rob Holding from Bolton.

Mertesacker was ruled out for four months before Gabriel suffered an ankle injury late on in Sunday's 3-2 friendly win over Manchester City in Sweden.

"I believe Per Mertesacker is out for four months and Gabriel for six to eight weeks," said Wenger.

"That's a bit better than expected because he doesn't need surgery. He ruptured his ankle ligament. At the start we thought it could be four months but he should be all right."

Arsenal have so far signed Switzerland midfielder Granit Xhaka for a fee in the region of £30million but fans have become increasingly agitated in recent weeks as the likes of Manchester United and Man City splash the cash.

Wenger insists there is no direct correlation between the fee paid for a player and his quality, with United breaking the world-record by bringing back Paul Pogba from Juventus for £89million.

He said: "I think it's harder than ever to convince people that you can buy good players at a reasonable price and that the quality is necessarily linked with the amount of money today is in everybody's mind.

"Most of the time it's true - good players cost a lot of money - but you can still find players of top quality at a reasonable price sometimes.

"We know that in England the transfers are very high because there's an influx of money. When you go outside England, it's very high because you're English.

"So you're not too surprised about the transfer amount because the clubs don't need the money in England and maybe that's why they only weaken if the price is high.

"Manchester United are the richest club in the world along with Real Madrid. Not many people can compete with their finances but that doesn't make the difference because at the moment on the pitch we can compete.

"That is the most important thing. It's not a financial competition, football is a performance competition."

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