Sunday 19 November 2017

'Not completely sorted' - Arsene Wenger sidesteps questions on new Arsenal deal

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is out of contract in the summer
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is out of contract in the summer

Mark Mann-Bryans

Arsene Wenger has revealed his Arsenal future is "not sorted completely" as he again evaded questions on whether he will sign a new deal.

The 67-year-old has come under pressure from a growing number of fans to leave when his contract expires in the summer.

The Gunners have lost six of their last nine games in all competitions as hope of a first Premier League crown since 2004 have evaporated.

Supporters will hold a third protest against Wenger's continued reign ahead of Sunday's visit of Manchester City - with the Frenchman admitting after the recent 3-1 loss at West Brom that he has made up his mind whether to stay or go.

But, despite a reported two-year deal being on offer, Wenger said on Thursday that not everything is in place to extend his two-decade spell at the helm.

Asked if he had anything to say about his future, the 67-year-old said: "Not today but I'm very clear in my mind.

"I've always been very clear in my mind. I will remain like that. I think it's a subject that at the moment is not sorted completely out. It's not, at the moment, the most important subject at the club."

Having said at the Hawthorns that he would inform everyone of his decision "very soon", it remains to be seen when Wenger actually confirms his plans.

He added: "Do I stay two months or two years? My commitment will be exactly the same. The time I spend here does not influence my attitude at all."

Wenger was more forthcoming when asked about whether he expects Alexis Sanchez to still be at the Emirates Stadium beyond the end of the current campaign.

The 28-year-old has cut a frustrated figure in recent weeks as Arsenal's slide out of the title race was coupled with a 10-2 aggregate defeat to Bayern Munich in the last 16 of the Champions League.

Sanchez, who should be fit for the visit of City on Sunday after playing twice for Chile during the international break, has yet to agree a new deal at Arsenal despite his current contract expiring in 15 months' time.

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Both he and team-mate Mesut Ozil are holding out for parity with the Premier League's top earners and Sanchez was reported as telling reporters in South America this week that he is happy in London but wants to play in a team with a "winning mentality''.

That has led to links with Premier League leaders Chelsea, but Wenger insists the club are no longer willing to sell their best players to direct rivals.

Asked about Arsenal losing their top stars in the past, he replied: "That is true that it happened before when we were in positions where we had to sell financially our best players. That's not the case anymore.

"Look, he has one-and-a-half years left on his contract. I don't think it's an immediate concern to Arsenal Football Club.

"They (Sanchez and Ozil) are not out of contract at the end of the season. I personally believe that both of them want to stay and I hope that the club will find an agreement with them.

"It's true that we have not extended his contract yet. I hope that he will stay at the club but overall I think you have as well to be very cautious when people give interviews in their home countries.

"The interpretation is not always exactly what they wanted to say. I don't see anything in that - he said he wants to win the championship, that's what everybody wants. I can understand that completely."

Arsenal take on Pep Guardiola's Manchester City having lost four out of their last five league games, not only falling out of title contention but also into a battle to finish in the top four as a result.

A visit from a side vying for similar prizes could present Wenger and his players with a way of addressing their recent slide.

"We come out of a difficult period and we play at home in a very big game," he added.

"It's a good opportunity for us to bounce back. I think it's two teams who, when you look at the numbers, have the best numbers of the final third in the league.

"That promises to be a very positive, attacking game. Both teams will attack - they go for it, we go for it, so it should be a promising game."

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