Arsene Wenger has revealed Arsenal are working to get several key players tied down to new deals at the Emirates Stadium.
Contract extensions for both Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil have dominated the news this week, with reports the pair are seeking parity with the highest-paid players in the Premier League. Both are expected to start in Saturday’s Premier League clash against Stoke with the Gunners looking to move to the top of the table for at least 24 hours. Hector Bellerin could also be involved having returned to training from an ankle injury, but he is the only player returning to the squad.
Wenger said yesterday that he will not allow Sanchez and Ozil to leave Arsenal even if they do not sign fresh contracts, opening up the possibility that the two most expensive signings in the club’s history could leave for free.
However, as well as Ozil and Sanchez, there are a host of other big names who are yet to sign new terms with the Gunners. Kieran Gibbs, Olivier Giroud, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Mathieu Debuchy, and Jack Wilshere all have a year and a half left on their current contracts.
And Wenger said it is normal to be in such a situation before announcing talks had opened with a number of those players whose contract ends are in sight.
“There are six or seven cases at the moment but that is the usual case, it is every year like that,” he said.
“That explains to you why we have a lot of work to do but you are only interested in two cases [Sanchez and Ozil].”
A number of names were then put to Wenger, starting with Giroud, and the Frenchman said of his compatriot: “We work as well on Giroud.”
He also confirmed talks had opened with Oxlade-Chamberlain, who has impressed in recent weeks, especially in the 5-1 thrashing of West Ham last Saturday.
Wenger said last month he will also look to talk to Wilshere, currently on loan at Bournemouth, in the new year.
Injured duo Per Mertesacker and Santi Cazorla have just over six months remaining on their deals, although Arsenal have the option to take up another one-year extension with both players.
Mertesacker is back training following a serious knee injury in pre-season while Cazorla has just undergone surgery on an injured Achilles.
Wenger said of the Spaniard that the club “will extend certainly with Santi Cazorla”, meaning the 31-year-old is likely to remain at the Emirates despite reported interest from his homeland.
While most of those negotiations take place in the background, it is the deals for Ozil and Sanchez which will rumble on. However, Wenger says Arsenal have to look at the bigger picture regarding the pair, and insists the club could cope with losing them in the future.
“Arsenal is a big club,” he added. “It is not one or two players who will make the difference to the club. The importance is that we are today in a financial position that is strong, that was not the case before. That means as well we are in a position where we can plan our future, and do what we want to do.
“What is important is always to take care of the values of the club, and the identity of the club, and not to depend too much on one or two players. The history of Arsenal is bigger than that. You regret every single good player that you lose. But on the other hand, you move on as well.”
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