Arsène Wenger says there is no chance Alexis Sánchez will leave Arsenal this summer and said he is prepared to run the risk of losing the forward on a free transfer next year.
Sánchez is wanted by Chelsea and Manchester City, as well as other clubs in Europe, and his situation has parallels to that of the former Arsenal striker Robin van Persie in 2012.
Van Persie finished the 2011-12 season with 12 months to run on his Arsenal contract and, having made it clear he would not sign a new one, forced through a £24 million move to Manchester United. He had just turned 29 and, in his first season at Old Trafford, he scored 26 Premier League goals to help the club win the title.
Sánchez was 28 in December and talks over renewed terms at Arsenal have been put on hold until the end of the season. Wenger said he is convinced Sánchez would re-sign but if he does not, the manager promised there will be no repeat of the Van Persie situation.
His desire is to stay. That is what I deeply believe. The disagreements are purely contractual
“If he doesn’t sign a new deal, will I make him stay? Yes,” Wenger said. “Would I rather keep him than sell him to a Premier League rival? Yes. I don’t think you would sell him to any Premier League club, that is for sure. Why not? The question is more why would you sell him to another Premier League club? You want to be as strong as you can be and not strengthen others.
“I think he will sign and stay because, first of all, he is happy here. His desire is to stay. That is what I deeply believe. The disagreements are purely contractual – not on the desire.”
Wenger sought to make the financial case for keeping Sánchez for another season and, possibly, losing out on a transfer fee of £40-£50 million.
He talked about how Sánchez’s value had to be considered over the length of his four-year contract; he cost £32 million from Barcelona, meaning he would have a remaining book value of £8 million next season, which would have to be set against what the club might make from his transfer.
“The problem that you have to analyse, always, is, ‘Can you find better? For what kind of money?’ The inflation is so big that sometimes, even mathematically, there can be advantages to keep a player until the end of a contract,” said Wenger.