Arsene Wenger has made his position crystal clear, but the issue has still not been completely put to bed.
With less than 12 months remaining on his current contract and seemingly no intention of signing a new one, Alexis Sanchez’s future has been a hot topic of debate this summer. Arsenal would appear to have a clear choice in front of them: either sell the Chile international now and reinvest whatever fee he commands, or keep him for another season and risk getting nothing in return for his exit at the end of the 2017/18 campaign.
There are, needless to say, positives and negatives to both options. Holding onto Sanchez would give Wenger’s side a significantly better chance of securing a return to the Champions League and launching a sustained challenge for the title, which they have not managed to do for some time now. On the other hand, selling him in the present window would make a great deal more sense from an economic point of view, rather than letting the 28-year-old walk for nothing in 2018.
Regardless of the respective merits of both, Wenger has been unambiguous in insisting Sanchez will not be sold before the window closes at the end of August. The former Barcelona forward, who could be of interest to his old employers following Neymar’s switch to Paris Saint-Germain, does not appear to be happy with his manager’s stance; Sanchez officially missed the Emirates Cup and Community Shield through illness, but it is hard not to wonder if the real reason had something to do with his unresolved future.
“I had him on text yesterday, he will come back as soon as possible,” Wenger told reporters last Sunday. “We were in touch with him and his doctor. There is no basic problem.
“I cannot reveal what he says to me. I cannot reveal a secret conversation. He is flying back as soon as he is in position to fly back. He has flu, that is normally four to five days.”
“There is no development, always the same, he is staying of course,” he added when pushed on Sanchez’s future.
If Wenger was to go back on his word and sanction his star man’s departure in the final few weeks of the summer market, it could cost his unsettled side points in the Premier League. It would also leave little time to obtain an adequate replacement, with rival clubs likely to be reluctant to sell once the season is under way. Wenger, in short, cannot afford to back down.