Arsene Wenger has reiterated his determination to hold onto Alexis Sanchez and slammed claims the unsettled Arsenal star’s dose of the flu was part of his plan to engineer a transfer.
Sanchez has just one year left on his Arsenal contract after refusing to sign the club’s offer of a new deal and it is believed the Chile forward wants to move to a team in the Champions League.
Manchester City, Paris Saint-Germain, Bayern Munich and Juventus are all interested in the 28-year-old, who has yet to return to pre-season training with Arsenal as he recovers after playing for Chile at the Confederations Cup.
Sanchez was due back at Arsenal on Sunday, but his return to England has been delayed by at least 48 hours after he caught the flu, revealing the illness with an social media picture of himself huddled under a blanket with the caption ‘sick’.
Some cynical Arsenal fans fear Sanchez’s failure to report on time is part of his plan to leave the Premier League club.
But Gunners boss Wenger, speaking after his side’s 5-2 thrashing of Benfica in the Emirates Cup on Saturday, made it clear Sanchez will not be sold.
“No development, always the same, He is staying, of course,” Wenger said.
Asked how he read Sanchez’s delayed arrival, Wenger refused to criticise his player.
“He has flu. He texted me to say he will come back as soon as possible. We are in touch with him and his doctor,” he said.
“Your job is to be suspicious, your job is built on mistrust and mine is built on trust, that is why I prefer my side.
“There is no basic problem. He would have come back tomorrow but he will be here on Tuesday. He is flying back as soon as he is in a position to.”
Wenger insisted the uncertainty over Sanchez’s future wouldn’t prove a distraction in the same way speculation over the manager’s contract caused such chaos before he signed a new deal at the end of last season.
“It’s not the same. It’s different with a manager who has to take a global view of the club. I think the players who have one year on their contract have to respect their contract and play under it,” he said.
Probed on whether Sanchez had personally told him whether or not he wanted to stay, Wenger added: “I cannot reveal to you what he says to me always. It is a secret conversation. I speak to all the players.”
Wenger also refused to say if he would make another bid for £50 million-rated ($65 million, 56 million euro) Monaco winger Thomas Lemar after having several offers rejected.
“We don’t speak about how our negotiations go. We come out once it’s done or not done,” he said.