Arsčne Wenger has finally admitted Alexis Sánchez will not sign a new contract at Arsenal and, as such, his departure is inevitable. But the manager believes there remains a chance that Mesut Özil will commit to fresh terms and he was clear about his own future at the club – he intends to remain in charge until 2019.
Wenger has become a divisive figure among Arsenal fans in recent years, with many of them believing it is time he left – a view that the team’s current league position of sixth has done nothing to change.
Wenger is nothing if not a stubborn fighter and he reminded his critics that he has always honoured his contracts. There has been the suggestion that his position could be reviewed at the end of the season but Wenger knows he has the security of a deal until the summer of next year.
“Will I be here? My contract clarifies that,” Wenger said. “Did I ever walk away? Never. Why should I change?”
Wenger accepted that his squad was heading for a rebuild, with a raft of players out of contract at the end of next season. They include Petr Cech, David Ospina, Nacho Monreal, Aaron Ramsey, Theo Walcott and Danny Welbeck. Walcott is a January target for Everton and Southampton. It is those that have six months to run who are uppermost in his thoughts – Sánchez, Özil and Jack Wilshere – and Wenger admitted, for the first time, that the former would not re-sign.
Manchester City and Manchester United are keen to take Sánchez before the end of the January window and Wenger said he would not sell him unless he could sign a replacement this month. The Bordeaux forward Malcom is on the wishlist, although Wenger said the club was “not on that case at the moment”.
Wenger is confident about tying Wilshere to a new deal and, with Özil not yet a lost cause in terms of next season and beyond, the manager believes the rebuilding work need not be too extensive.
“It looks like Sánchez will not extend his contract,” Wenger said. “But we want to keep Jack and, if we have an opportunity maybe to keep Özil, the rebuild will be less deep than if all three left. We are still talking to Özil and there is still an opportunity for him to stay. I am more optimistic than I was last summer.
“These guys want to win trophies and they want to make money as well. They want a combination of the two, that big clubs can give them. Incidentally Özil has won trophies with us. So he wants to fight as well for the Premier League – that’s normal, when you are at that level.”
Wenger reported that Özil was 50-50 to play at Bournemouth on Sunday depending on a knee problem and Wilshere has seemingly shrugged off an ankle complaint. Ramsey is back in the squad after hamstring trouble.