Sanchez to miss start of the season

Alexis Sanchez celebrating Arsenal's FA Cup triumph last May. He will not be available for the first two league games of the season, having suffered an abdominal strain. The forward, whose contract expires next year, could move before the transfer wi
Alexis Sanchez celebrating Arsenal's FA Cup triumph last May. He will not be available for the first two league games of the season, having suffered an abdominal strain. The forward, whose contract expires next year, could move before the transfer window closes on Aug 31, with a transfer to Manchester City long mooted.PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON • Alexis Sanchez has been ruled out with an abdominal strain for at least two weeks and could have played his last game for Arsenal, given that the forward wants to leave the club.

Arsene Wenger said that the forward suffered the problem in training on Sunday and was already ruled out of the Gunners' FA Community Shield win against Chelsea on the same day because of flu.

He had a scan on Monday, which revealed the extent of the damage, and revealed that he will not be fit to play against Leicester City in tomorrow's English Premier League season opener, and Stoke City the following weekend.

Sanchez has been tracked by Manchester City, his preferred destination, with a move to Paris Saint-Germain now looking less likely.

"For us, Alexis Sanchez is a loss, of course," Wenger said, adding that he was unlikely to have included the Chilean international in Friday's starting line-up regardless of the fresh injury. "But we have all the other players prepared in pre-season and they are all ready."

Sanchez returned to the club late after the summer break and has not featured in any pre-season games after playing at the Confederations Cup with Chile. Wenger refused to say whether the club have received an offer for the 28-year-old, Arsenal's top scorer in the league last season with 24 goals.

"I can't tell you that at the moment," said the Arsenal manager. "I just think we are not open - what I said to you many times - to any offers, anyway."

He claimed it was possible that Sanchez could still sign an extension beyond next summer.

"All is possible, you know," said the Frenchman. "When a player goes into the final year of their contract, we will try to extend the contract because there is no reason we shouldn't do it, but we are not there yet."

He also dismissed media reports linking Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain with Chelsea. The 23-year-old England international has struggled to secure a regular place since arriving at Arsenal six years ago, but Wenger believes the winger has the potential to become a great player.

"Personally, I think he is a hugely talented player, he's on the way up and he will continue to move up because the potential is there," he said.

THE TIMES, LONDON, REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 10, 2017, with the headline 'Sanchez to miss start of the season'. Print Edition | Subscribe