Arsene Wenger has laughed off Alexis Sanchez’s comments about wanting to play for a team with a “winning mentality,” and said he thinks both he and Mesut Ozil want to stay at Arsenal.
Sanchez told Chilean media during the international break that he is happy in London and that “I’d like to stay in the city but with a team that is winning things, that has a winning mentality.”
Some viewed that as a hint he wants a summer transfer to Premier League leaders Chelsea, but Wenger told a news conference that he interpreted the comments “in a very positive way.”
“There’s only one team in London, so he’s happy,” Wenger said with a laugh.
Sanchez and Ozil are both out of contract next summer, with negotiations on extensions on hold until after the end of the season.
Wenger recently benched Sanchez for Arsenal’s key Premier League game at Liverpool after the player stormed out of a training session. But he cautioned against reading too much into Sanchez’s recent comments.
“I think personally he’s happy here,” he said. “It’s true that we have not extended his contract yet. I hope that he will stay at the club but overall I think you have as well to be very cautious when people give interviews in their home countries.
“The interpretation is not always exactly what they wanted to say. I don’t see anything in that — he said he wants to win the championship, that’s what everybody wants. I can understand that completely.”
The contract talks with Arsenal’s star duo have stalled over salary demands and the uncertainty surrounding Wenger’s own future. But the Frenchman said he still thinks they will end happily for the Gunners.
“I personally believe that both of them want to stay and I hope that the club will find an agreement with them,” Wenger said.
Sanchez and Ozil are both expected to be available for Sunday’s clash against Manchester City after shrugging off injury concerns by playing for their national teams during the break.
Wenger said Ozil “came back focused and worked very hard this week” after missing the 3-1 loss at West Brom with a hamstring injury.
“He is in contention to start again,” Wenger said.
Arsenal badly need a win on Sunday to make up ground on the top four, having dropped to sixth place after an alarming slump that includes four losses in their last five league matches.
And Wenger said recent results have made it clear that his squad needs to be strengthened this summer even if Ozil and Sanchez both end up staying.
“It’s a strange season because we played 20 games unbeaten. If you look at our offensive numbers, they are very good,” he added. “But as well, I cannot sit here and say we have no flaws or weaknesses in our team, because we have.
“The results are there. I think there is a very, very strong basis, but the team needs to be strengthened, of course.”
Wenger spent part of the international break working as a pundit back home in France, and said he was impressed by the use of video assisted refereeing in the friendly between France and Spain. Video replays were used twice in that game to make crucial offside decisions, both in Spain’s favour as they won 2-0.
“I got up after the game and thought ‘we are really stupid, why did that not happen 15 years ago?’” he said. “That shows just that the football world is still a regressive world that is scared to move forward and I believe that that should have happened a long, long time ago.
“Personally, I always was in favour of it and I said always that the first thing to deal with is the offsides and the game has shown that… It will definitely cut out all the interference and desire to corrupt referees. That exists in the world, you know. This kind of video will be a very good plan to fight against that as well.”