Monday 18 November 2019

Arsenal waiting to see if Alexis Sanchez will return as planned as Thomas Lemar chase continues

Alexis Sanchez's Arsenal future is uncertain
Alexis Sanchez's Arsenal future is uncertain

Jeremy Wilson

Arsenal remain uncertain whether their star striker Alexis Sanchez will report as planned for his first day of pre-season training following a bizarre Instagram post in which he said he was sick.

Sanchez’s message was accompanied by a photograph of him ­wearing a jumper and scarf, with his arm around his dog and his bottom lip, drooping and protruding, in apparent sadness. The picture is accompanied by the word enfermo, which translates simply as sick.

The photograph was posted hours after a story was published on the official Arsenal website in which Arsene Wenger, the manager, outlined his expectation that Sanchez would report for training tomorrow. Manchester City and Paris St-Germain are both expected to submit formal bids for Sanchez, potentially as early as next week.

Sanchez has indicated a desire to leave this summer amid an ongoing refusal to extend his contract and, while Arsenal were confident that he would return and train properly in preparation for the start of the new season, they have been left seeking clarification about his health.

As of yesterday afternoon, the club were still awaiting further ­updates before knowing whether Sanchez would still arrive tomorrow as expected at the club’s London Colney base. The Sanchez saga has been hovering over the club all summer but has now been brought into even sharper focus as his ­holiday nears its end.

It is understood that talks with Sanchez and his representatives over a proposed new contract worth around £280,000 a week have already broken down and that he wants to leave.

Paris St-Germain and Manchester City are both ­interested and, although Arsenal remain adamant that he will not be sold, their preference ultimately would be to a club outside the ­Premier League.

Their stance would only be ­reconsidered if there was a huge ­offer in excess of £50 million.

Sanchez has made clear his desire for Champions League football but Wenger has, in turn, told him to stay and inspire the club’s return to the competition. It is understood that the proposed new contract is heavily incentivised for Sanchez if Arsenal were to reclaim their place in Europe’s elite club tournament.

Arsenal have already bought a potential replacement in Alexandre Lacazette and claim that their pursuit of Monaco’s Thomas Lemar is not related to the Sanchez issue, but, like the Chile striker, he can play to the left of a front three.

Wenger has sanctioned three bids for Lemar already this ­summer, peaking this week at £45 million, but the French league champions and Champions League semi-finalists are adamant that he will not be sold.

Monaco have made a series of player sales already this summer but the plan has been to keep Lemar, who is also seen as ­important in their attempts to ­persuade Kylian Mbappe to extend his contract amid Real Madrid’s willingness to break the world transfer record.

Arsenal believe that the 18-year-old Mbappe, who has become the most sought-after player in world football, will stay but have still not given up on Lemar.

Medical examinations also continue in respect of Santi Cazorla, who has been out since last year but remains determined to vindicate Arsenal’s decision to extend his contact by a season. Cazorla, 32, still believes that he can return from his acute Achilles tendon problems.

“I don’t know how long but I’m convinced that I’ll be back soon,” he said. “The doctors have told me that a case like mine is one that they probably won’t see again for a long time as it is unusual for an athlete. Every day my son asks me if I will play again because he really wants to see me out on the pitch again.”

Arsenal are preparing for other exits this summer, including the Spanish striker Lucas Perez. His agent confirmed yesterday that there has been a bid from Deportivo La Coruna, but it is understood to be for around half the £17 million fee that Arsenal paid last summer.

Perez wants to get into the Spain World Cup squad and does not ­expect to receive opportunities at Arsenal after losing his shirt ­number to Lacazette.

Rodrigo Fernandez Lovelle, the player’s agent, described Perez as “angry and upset” at having his No 9 position taken without “being asked”.

He added: “Lucas signed for ­Arsenal and was the happiest ­person in the world and with all of his dreams to fulfil. Every time he played he did well, but after every time he got fewer and fewer ­opportunities.”

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