Arsene Wenger insisted that Arsenal will not be selling Alexis Sanchez even if the Chilean international opts not to extend his contract with the Gunners.
There had been a number of known suitors for Sanchez, amongst whom were other Premier League clubs such as Chelsea and Manchester City, and also other European clubs.
Sanchez, 28, has put new contract talks with Arsenal on hold until the summer.
“If he doesn’t sign a new deal, will I make him stay? Yes,” Wenger said. “Would I rather keep him than sell him to a Premier League rival? Yes. I don’t think you would sell him to any Premier League club, that is for sure. Why not? The question is more why would you sell him to another Premier League club? You want to be as strong as you can be and not strengthen the other teams.”
“I think he will sign and stay because, first of all, he is happy here. His desire is to stay. That is what I deeply believe. The disagreements are purely contractual – not on the desire. Both parties have the desire to find an agreement, so I think it will happen.”
Mesut Ozil and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain are another two Arsenal players who enter the final 12 months of their contracts this summer but Wenger remains confident about resolving those situations. “It will all be decided in the summer,” he said.
Sanchez is now in a similar situation with the former Arsenal striker Robin van Persie, who finished the 2011-12 season with 12 months left in his Arsenal contract but having made it clear he would not sign a new one, forced a £24m move to Manchester United.
Van Persie was 29 in his first season at Old Trafford, scoring 26 Premier League goals to help the club win the title.