London (AFP) – Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger insists now is not the time to worry about the long-term futures of star duo Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez on the eve of the new Premier League season.
The Gunners kick off their campaign at home to Liverpool at the Emirates Stadium on Sunday but on Friday Wenger was forced to play down concerns over the situation of both Ozil and Sanchez at the club.
The German playmaker and Chilean forward both have under two years to run on their respective contracts but Wenger said now was not the time to focus on their futures.
“We make progress always, but it is not always a quick process. They still have two years’ contract and there is no urgency as well,” Wenger told a press conference.
“They (Arsenal fans) have no reason to be concerned. At the moment we have priorities, and most of the time contract extensions are done outside the win because it gives you a bit more time and focus on that.”
Arsenal head into the start of the new season with bigger concerns in defence.
Last season’s Premier League runners-up will be without Per Mertesacker and Gabriel for the visit of Liverpool, while Laurent Koscielny has not played in pre-season after reaching the final of Euro 2016 with France.
The club have been strongly linked with Mertesacker’s fellow German stopper Shkodran Mustafi, with reports emerging from Germany on Thursday that a deal had been agreed with the player’s current club Valencia.
But, asked about the potential signing of defender Mustafi, Wenger simply said: “I cannot tell you.”
The Frenchman admitted after Mertesacker’s injury that he needed to go back into the market for a new defender, despite adding Rob Holding from Bolton.
Mertesacker was ruled out for four months before Gabriel suffered an ankle injury late on in Sunday’s 3-2 friendly win over Manchester City in Sweden.
“I believe Per Mertesacker is out for four months and Gabriel for six to eight weeks,” said Wenger.
“That’s a bit better than expected because he doesn’t need surgery. He ruptured his ankle ligament. At the start we thought it could be four months but he should be all right.”
Arsenal have so far signed Switzerland midfielder Granit Xhaka for a fee in the region of £30million but fans have become increasingly agitated in recent weeks as the likes of Manchester United and Manchester City splash the cash.
Striker Olivier Giroud is also likely to be missing against Liverpool while Danny Welbeck and Carl Jenkinson, who both have knee injuries, are also sidelined.