Monday 11 December 2017

Arsene Wenger admits Arsenal may be forced to sell Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil in January

Alexis Sanchez, left, and Mesut Ozil could leave Arsenal for free next summer
Alexis Sanchez, left, and Mesut Ozil could leave Arsenal for free next summer

Tom Allnutt

Arsene Wenger has admitted that Arsenal may be forced to sell Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil in January to avoid the pair leaving for free next summer.

Striker Sanchez and midfielder Ozil are both out of contract at the end of the season and, despite lengthy negotiations, neither have agreed to extend their current deals.

The stalemate leaves Arsenal facing the possibility of their two star players departing for free and Wenger conceded selling mid-season is one solution.

"It is possible," Gunners boss Wenger said. "Once you're in our kind of situation, we have envisaged every solution, yes."

Asked if the club had set a deadline for talks to be resolved, Wenger said: "No. Not at the moment."

Ozil's agent Erkut Sogut indicated this week his client was keen to stay in the Premier League and that negotiations with Arsenal were progressing "in a positive way".

When that assessment was put to Wenger, the Frenchman said: "That's my understanding, yes.

"I always said the fact that we didn't find an agreement last year doesn't mean the player will necessarily leave. Both players look happy here and overall I hope the situation can be turned around."

Ozil is back in training after recovering from a knee injury and could play against Watford on Saturday but Sanchez will have to be assessed following Chile's agonising defeat to Brazil. Chile's loss on Wednesday meant they failed to qualify for next year's World Cup.

There was disappointment too for Arsenal defender Shkodran Mustafi, who suffered a thigh injury playing for Germany against Azerbaijan last weekend and will be out for four to six weeks.

Mustafi's absence may at least be offset by the return of Laurent Koscielny, however, who is close to overcoming an Achilles problem.

"Koscielny has a definite final test tomorrow (on Friday)," Wenger said.

"At the moment, he's not available. He trained on his own and the first signs are positive, so we decided to give him a test tomorrow."

On Sanchez, Wenger added: "I will have to speak to him. Yesterday afternoon I watched the whole Brazil against Chile game to see how difficult the game was.

"I must say he got some special treatment - it was a very physical game and mentally I will have to assess the situation when he comes back tomorrow."

Aaron Ramsey also endured World Cup heartache this week after Wales' hopes of qualification were ended by defeat at home to the Republic of Ireland.

Wenger is confident Sanchez and Ramsey's club form, however, will not be affected.

"I don't think so. I believe that he, like Aaron Ramsey, are winners," Wenger said.

They want to focus on winning things and overall while I believe that the World Cup is a stimulant - I don't deny that - but when you don't have it, you focus on your club and what you can achieve with your club."

Jack Wilshere does still have the chance to play in Russia next summer but the midfielder must first prove his fitness, both to Wenger and England boss Gareth Southgate.

Wilshere was not included in Southgate's most recent squad but, with England struggling for creativity in central midfield, a return to form could prove timely.

"I believe that Jack at the moment is in the best form I've seen him in for a long time," Wenger said.

"If he keeps going like he's going at the moment, he will go to the World Cup, I'm sure. I don't see Jack being fully fit and not going to the World Cup."

Danny Welbeck is back in contention for this weekend's trip to Vicarage Road after recovering from a groin injury but Sead Kolasinac has a minor hip problem and will be given a late fitness test.

Press Association

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