Sanchez flu not a sign of ill will against club, says Wenger

LONDON • Arsene Wenger has reiterated his determination to hold on to Alexis Sanchez and slammed claims the unsettled Arsenal star's dose of the flu was part of the player's 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 yesterday, but his return to England has been delayed by at least 48 hours after he caught the flu, revealing the illness with a social media picture of himself huddled under a blanket with the caption "sick".

Some cynical Arsenal fans fear his 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 that Sanchez will not be sold.

"No development, always the same. He is staying, of course," said the Frenchman.

Asked how he interpreted 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 would not prove a distraction in the same way speculation over the manager's contract caused chaos before he signed a new deal at the end of last season.

"It's not the same," he said, explaining the distinction. "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."

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."

He also refused to say if he would make another bid for £50 million-rated (S$89.6 million) Monaco winger Thomas Lemar after having several offers rejected.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 31, 2017, with the headline 'Sanchez flu not a sign of ill will against club, says Wenger'. Print Edition | Subscribe