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If players aren't happy they can go, insists Wenger

Arsene Wenger delivered a blunt message yesterday to any restless Arsenal players, telling them that they should leave if they are not satisfied with the club's direction.

It follows the comments last week of Bacary Sagna, his right-back, who questioned the club's summer transfer strategy and said that he could not understand why Arsenal had sold Alex Song as well as Robin van Persie.

Wenger has spoken personally with Sagna about his remarks and he stressed yesterday that he expected the 29-year-old to extend a contract that expires in 2014. He was uncompromising, however, in his wider message to the rest of the squad.

"I believe any player or any employee always has to defend the company he works for and if he is not completely happy with it then he has to go somewhere else," said Wenger.

"I've said as well that Bacary loves the club and will stay here. He didn't want to be negative. I expect him to stay and I want him to stay because the interview does not really reflect at all what he thinks about the club. He has always shown total commitment on the football pitch -- for the team and the club. That is much more important."

Sagna is out of contract in 2014, meaning he will potentially be in the same position as Van Persie next summer in having only one year remaining on his deal.

Wenger said that he could understand Sagna's disappointment at seeing Song leave but stressed Arsenal's current strength in the central midfield positions. He is also adamant that Arsenal will soon be in a much stronger position financially to keep their very best players.

Strong

"With Sagna, we want to extend his contract," Wenger said. "He is 29, so his contract finishes when he is 31. So of course we can't give him five years.

"We lost players until now but the situation is changing and will be in favour of Arsenal much more because of financial fair play. We will be in a very strong position."

Wenger's own future has also been placed on the agenda after chief executive Ivan Gazidis suggested that the club would want him to stay well beyond the expiry of his contract in 2014.

"At the moment I am not in the mood to think about the long-term future," he said. "I have to consider at my age that my future is short-term, I have to go year by year and not think 10 years ahead.

"I'm an Arsenal man. I think I've always shown that. I have to consider if I do well or not. If I don't do well, I have to consider my future. I've been at the club long enough to have confidence in the people I work with.

"At the moment we are not there. Two years is a long time in my job. You always have to assess if you have the fitness, the desire, the commitment that this job demands.

"I believe I have to make sure that, on the day I leave, the club is in a fantastic situation, that the guy who comes in after me has a good chance to be successful, that he finds a strong financial situation, a strong team and the club has a structure which can allow him to have success."

Abou Diaby is rated as "50-50" to face Southampton tomorrow but will have a final fitness test today, while Wojciech Szczesny is again available in goal and Theo Walcott, who missed England's game against Ukraine with a virus, hopes to return. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent