London (AFP) – Arsene Wenger believes Alexis Sanchez wants to stay at Arsenal, despite reports the striker could leave the London club if they fail to qualify for the Champions League.
Veteran French manager Wenger, in charge of Arsenal since September 1996, has yet to announce if he will stay with the club when his own contract expires at the end of the season and the Gunners boss was giving little away again on Friday.
But he was rather more forthcoming about the future of 28-year-old Chile forward Sanchez, whose own Arsenal deal expires at the end of next season.
“I believe that basically he wants to stay at the club and it’s down to finding an agreement with his agent,” said Wenger.
“I think the players first have to see are they happy to the club and after (that) most of the time it’s down to finding an agreement, but the finances are involved in it, yes.”
Wenger, speaking ahead of Arsenal’s match against London rivals Crystal Palace on Monday, was again tight-lipped about his own prospects with the Gunners.
Arsenal last won the Premier League title in 2004 and the pressure on Wenger has intensified this season, with the club often looking as though they will miss out on a top four spot that secures Champions League qualification.
Wenger’s side are currently fifth — four points behind fourth-placed Manchester City but with a game in hand.
City will, however, go seven points clear if they beat strugglers Hull on Saturday.
The 67-year-old Wenger has faced calls to quit from some fans’ groups unhappy with what they see as Arsenal’s repeated inability to sustain a title challenge.
But Wednesday’s 3-0 win over West Ham ended with supporters staying behind to chant his name in a gesture of support for Wenger.
Various attempts Friday to get further clarity from Wenger about his future proved largely fruitless.
Asked if an announcement would come from himself or the club, Wenger simply said: “From the club.”
Meanwhile a question that sought to find out if Wenger had any pre-requisites when it came to a new contract deal, saw him say: “No, nothing to add to that.”
Arsenal’s pre-season plans were mentioned in an attempt to gain some indication that Wenger would indeed be staying on at Arsenal.
But in the manner of a diplomat, Wenger said: “Of course (plans are in place for pre-season). No (that does not indicate he will stay), it’s just that I do my job to plan for the future of the club.
“I cannot tell you now (if a decision will be made before the end of the season) because I don’t know, I am focused on our next game.”
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