Friday 23 February 2018

Wenger open to losing Sanchez for free next season

Arsenal ready to take £60m hit by not selling star

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger. Photo: Nick Potts/PA Wire
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger. Photo: Nick Potts/PA Wire

Jack Pitt-Brooke

Arsene Wenger has opened the door further to losing Alexis Sanchez for free, arguing that tying him to a big new contract at Arsenal could prove to be even more expensive than foregoing a transfer fee for him this summer.

Wenger spent much of his morning press conference yesterday discussing the Sanchez dilemma, explaining why he was willing to take the "financial sacrifice" of turning down big money for the "sporting" benefit of having him in an Arsenal shirt for one final season.

Arsenal could make £60million this summer if they wanted to sell Sanchez to Manchester City, but Wenger has said that they will not sell him to a rival.

Yesterday Wenger could not guarantee that - "'never' in our job never exists" - but he did say why selling might not be as profitable as it first looks.

As Wenger accepted that allowing Sanchez to play out his last season would cost Arsenal that lost transfer fee, he was careful to explain the picture was not quite so simple.

If they did sell him, they may spend the whole fee on a replacement, who may not be as good. And if they did ever secure him to a new deal, that may cost the club even more money than foregoing the fee.

"It is not an ideal situation on the financial side and it demands some sacrifice," said Wenger, explaining why replacing Sanchez would eat up any profit. "It is a sacrifice that you have to calculate how much it costs. If you let the player go, and you buy somebody, you spend maybe more than you lose."

So selling him might not be as profitable as it might look.

Arsenal's ideal situation has always been to secure Sanchez on a new deal at the Emirates, which they would be happy to push as high as £300,000 per week.

But that would mean more than £15m per year in salary, four years of which would cost as much as foregoing a £60m fee this summer. Wenger warned how expensive even this best-case scenario would be.

"As well, if you extend the contract it costs you maybe more than you lose [in transfer fee] when you keep the player," Wenger said.

"You have to consider the length of the contract as well what the players want. So all that is into consideration. The financial sacrifice [of Sanchez leaving on a fee] is not as heavy as it looks."

While Wenger wants Sanchez to stay for simple football reasons, he admits that funding a bumper new deal might be beyond Arsenal.

"Of course I am a football manager, I want Sanchez to stay, and that's it," Wenger said. "After that, all the financial implications, for me, are less important. But at the end of the day you have to afford it as well. I want Sanchez to stay, to extend his contract. But as well you have to be capable to afford to pay him."

Wenger knows that he needs the board's support in his stance to forego a Sanchez fee and he admitted that they could pull the rug out from underneath him on this, and force Sanchez to be sold.

"It is my decision, but after the board has to of course agree with me," he said. "And if they don't agree we have to consider it as well, and I will accept it. But the board is behind me on that."

Ultimately, it sounded like Wenger preparing the arguments for why Arsenal should part with Sanchez for nothing next summer.

Which, if he is not going to sign a new deal, is still Wenger's preferred outcome.

But five years ago he said he would not lose Robin van Persie, in a similar situation, only to sell him to Manchester United for £24million.

That was a different time for Arsenal, but Wenger did not say that it could never happen again.

"I do not say 'never', because every situation is different and sometimes you are in a position where you have as well to consider the financial aspect of the situation," Wenger said. "Van Persie had a good season."

But for Arsenal to cave in now and sell Sanchez to City would be quite a climbdown after so much grandstanding.

Mesut Ozil and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are in the same boat, but could Wenger promise that all three would stay whatever happened this month? Not quite.

"100 per cent never exists, because 'never' in our job never exists," Wenger said. "Today, yes. I think all the three will stay. I will fight for them to stay." (© Independent News Service)

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