London (AFP) – Arsene Wenger has ruled out January departures for Arsenal pair Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil unless “something unbelievable” happens even as the clock ticks down on their contracts.
The players are out of contract at the end of the season as both have so far refused to sign new deals at the Emirates.
Ozil has been linked with a move to Barcelona while Sanchez almost joined Manchester City on the final day of the summer transfer window, only for Arsenal to pull the plug when they failed to land Monaco’s Thomas Lemar as his replacement.
Wenger says he has no concerns over the commitment of the pair, with Sanchez scoring a last-gasp penalty as the Gunners won 1-0 at Burnley on Sunday to move into the Premier League top four.
Arsenal host Huddersfield on Wednesday, with Ozil likely to be missing because of the illness that ruled him out at Turf Moor but Wenger believes the influential pair will not be sold in January — even though they could then walk away from the club for free six months later.
“Yes, I rule it out,” Wenger said at his pre-match press conference when asked about potential departures.
“I do not think about that every day. At the moment, as long as they are here, they have to give their best for the team and for the club.
“In my head, they stay until the end of the season and that’s a decision that was taken at the start of the season. Unless something unbelievable happens, I can’t see why that would change.”
– No assurances –
However, Wenger could not offer Arsenal supporters assurances that either player would be tempted to sign new deals and extend their stays beyond 2018.
“They’re into the final year of their contract,” he said. “Will they stay longer? That’s impossible to answer today because I don’t know. They have a contract until the end of the season.
“I am not the only one who can decide that. They have a part to play in that as well. If it’s my decision, yes (they would stay longer).”
Another player whose contract expires at the end of the season is England midfielder Jack Wilshere, who has been restricted to just three substitute appearances in the Premier League.
“He’s a football man and I will always decide what is best for him. That is my first priority no matter what kind of decision I make,” Wenger said. “I have to consider the interests of Jack Wilshere and Arsenal Football Club together.”
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