'Every player has to fight' - Arsene Wenger with some pointed comments for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has aimed a veiled barb at Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain as the former Gunner prepares to return to Emirates Stadium for the first time as a Liverpool player on Friday night.
Oxlade-Chamberlain turned down a big contract offer to stay at Arsenal and moved to Liverpool in a £35m deal in August, with Wenger now hinting the player he signed from Southampton and helped to mould into an England international lacked the willpower to battle for place in his team.
These comments are certain to inspire Oxlade-Chamberlain if he gets a chance to start in the Liverpool team on Friday night, with Jurgen Klopp facing a selection dilemma as he considers whether to recall Sadio Mane.
"What do you want to be, a big player and not have to fight," questioned the Arsenal boss. "I am convinced it is an important part of being a top player.
"You can’t be a big player, sit in your rocking chair and say, ‘I do not want to fight.’ It doesn’t work like that. Every player has to fight.
"In a big club, you have big competition with some good players. That is absolutely normal.
"I didn’t want him (Oxlade-Chamberlain) to go. I offered him a contract to stay, but in the end he decided to go and we just had to try and the the best possible price.
"Look, he had one year to go. At start of the season we had four players with one year to go and I wanted him to extend his contract. Yes, he decided to go and we respect that. But at the end of the day I decided to sell one.
"We respect his decision and that’s absolutely normal and I have no problem with that. What’s important is that the players make a good career, preferably in your club. If it doesn’t happen, you still want them to have a good career.
"Sometimes it happens with one player who we don’t want to go, goes."
Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil are also in the final year of their contracts at Arsenal, with Wenger continuing to insist he will not consider offers for his star duo in next month's transfer window.