LONDON • Arsene Wenger has predicted it will become increasingly normal for players to run down their contracts, as he suggested Mesut Ozil was doing at Arsenal, and he believes it may have the short-term benefit of driving an improvement in their performances.
Ozil has entered the final year on his contract at the Emirates and manager Wenger did the numbers to explain why the midfielder had not and, most likely, would not agree to a new deal - at least, not any time soon.
However, Wenger said he was relaxed about it and that "it doesn't matter" if Ozil were to leave.
Wenger even described the situation as being "ideal" because, more than anything, the German would have to play well - if only to impress his potential suitors.
Get The Straits Times
newsletters in your inbox
Wenger has a number of players in the final year of their contracts, including Alexis Sanchez and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain. Sanchez wants to leave, with Manchester City his destination of choice. His situation differs from that of Ozil in that he has elite-level clubs who want to sign him.
It was put to Wenger on Sunday that when players ran down their contracts, it was usually on the premise that they would leave - usually, as free agents, with the club receiving nothing in transfer fees.
"Even if that happens, it doesn't matter," he said.
"You do well (in) what you do. It looks normal to me."
On Sanchez and the fans' fears that he is pushing to leave, Wenger said: "What can I do about that? One day, he will go and Arsenal will go on. Do I think he will stay (this season)?
"Yes, of course. "
Wenger watched his team play poorly and lose 1-2 to Sevilla on Sunday - a result which, bizarrely, saw them win the Emirates Cup.
It helped that, in the pre-season tournament, clubs also win points for goals scored and Arsenal had scored five in their victory over Benfica on Saturday.
Arsenal just returned from a tour of Australia and China, and it remains clear that Wenger is not a fan of the long-haul jaunts as he believes they are to blame for Arsenal's slow starts to recent English Premier League seasons.
Arsenal have lost their opening fixture in the past two seasons, having toured Singapore in 2015 and the US and Scandinavia last year.
"Since we travelled (in pre-season), we've struggled a bit more," Wenger said.
"We had a very good record as long as we didn't travel. But we're on the same line as any other team."
THE GUARDIAN, THE TIMES, LONDON