If you have been paying attention to the press lately, you might have heard that Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Özil do not have new contracts yet. As the straws that stir the Arsenal drink, it naturally leads to speculation that one or both could be lured away by a more lucrative offer by a bigger club. Which makes sense, they tell you, because it’s Arsenal and they don’t win and lose players. Naturally.
But then it leads to reports that former Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini is set to offer Alexis £500,000 a week in wages to come play for his new club, Hebei China Fortune. And while money usually plays a massive role in signing players, one wonders how serious one of the worlds better attacking players would consider a move to the rich but not very good Chinese Super League.
Arsene Wenger, as well, has no time for it:
“There is no concern, not at all. There is no concern, I answer you straight away.
“You waste your time because these players have 18 months [left on their] contract and I don’t see why there is any urgency in every press conference to have that question.
“Maybe you lack a bit of creativity in the newspapers and you always come up with the same subject. I don’t see why that should turn up in every press conference.
“If people want to go to China, they go to China. You can understand that I have completely different worries than China today ahead of the Manchester City game.”
He laughs at your petty attempts to concoct controversy. Bah, media. Bah! In honesty, it’s reads as pretty prickly from the boss, meaning this is only going to get worse. Still, showing up to a press conference ahead of a game against a rival that you’ve sold a lot of players to, with a quote from that team’s ex-manager stating he wants to poach Arsenal’s in form striker? The dots are pretty easy to connect here.
Wenger also raises some key points. While negotiations have started, there really isn’t a rush. Over a year remains for both players and Arsenal have no obligation to sell or sign before that point. Extensions are usually done early to limit offers tempting players or covering over release clauses, but both Alexis and Özil clearly will known their worth and Arsenal cannot deny they will need to offer massive wages to keep them.
Wenger made this known as well:
“We are not [as vulnerable] because today I feel we can give financial satisfaction and support ambitions and values that can make the players happy at this club.
“Before, perhaps the financial gap was too big a difference to keep our players. We could not compete, we had to sell players.”
How this plays out, only time will tell. But it clearly isn’t now, just ahead of a massive game against Manchester City which kicks off the holiday glut of games.