Arsene Wenger has warned that Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez they will not leave Arsenal before their contracts expire in 18 months time even if they fail to agree new deals at the club.
The Gunners boss suggested he would let the pair leave for free if their contracts run down rather than cash in on either of them as he did as and when he sold former captain Robin van Persie to Manchester United in 2012. Reports earlier this week suggested both Ozil and Sanchez want to be handed pay rises to take them onto parity with the best-paid players in the Premier League.
In the past the Gunners have lost some of their top names to clubs able to offer more money – but Wenger suggested earlier in the week that elite players are attracted more to the challenge rather than their pay-packet.
Wenger, who also said he could offer no assurances to Arsenal fans that the pair will remain beyond their current deals, did insist they would at least be at the club for the next year and a half.
Asked if he will not sell Sanchez or Ozil if they get down to having a year remaining, the Frenchman said: “I’m not the only one who can decide that. A contract is negotiations in this case between two parties.
“On my side, the best position is to achieve it earlier. These players will stay here for at least 18 months. I cannot repeat always the same things.
“I think at some stage you have to accept that negotiations are private and secret, and we do not always have to come out every day to explain what we do in football negotiations.
“We are professional people, we work until the last day of our contracts with full commitment.
“These players have 18 months on their contracts and, no matter what happens, they will stay for 18 months. Hopefully they’ll stay for longer than that.”
While Wenger may be hopeful over extending the deals of both players, despite reported interest from rival Premier League clubs and the Chinese Super League, he admitted he could offer no guarantees to Arsenal fans.
“None,” he replied when asked if he could give assurances to the supporters over new contracts for Sanchez and Ozil.
“They have 18 months left on their contract and they are completely committed to do well as long as they are here.
“Beyond that, we’ll try to extend their contracts but I cannot make that the subject in every press conference because it’s a normal part of every renewal when you renegotiate. The less you talk about it, the better it is.”
Sanchez has been linked with a move to China, with suggestions he has been offered £400,000 a week – but Wenger was dismissive of that potential destination.
“I believe it, yes, why not but why should you go to China when you’re playing in England today?” he said.
“We live in a world where great players like Alexis and Ozil earn a lot of money and they have the privilege of choosing where they really want to play.”
Both players are expected to start in Saturday’s Premier League clash against Stoke with the Gunners looking to move to the top of the table for at least 24 hours.
Hector Bellerin could also be involved having returned to training from an ankle injury, but he is the only player returning to the squad.