‘Let Sanchez alone to decide his future’

Arsenal forward Alexis Sanchez should be left alone to decide his future, captain Per Mertesacker has said, as speculation continues to swirl about the Chilean’s plans.

Sanchez, who was the North London side’s top scorer last season with 24 league goals in 38 matches, is entering the final year of his contract and is yet to sign a new deal.

“He needs a break now,” Mertesacker told reporters during the club’s pre-season tour. “He needs to relax. He has done a lot for us. He played almost every game last season and then the Confederations Cup.

“You need to leave him alone to make up his mind what he wants to do. It’s his decision. If he feels good, comfortable, he can play with freedom.”

Mertesacker is entering the final season of his playing career at Arsenal as he prepares to become the club’s academy manager next year and the German is eager to finish on a high.

“I want to make the most of it,” he told the club’s website. (www.arsenal.com) “I want to stay injury free, be an option for the manager to get picked every weekend. That’s the target. To make it as enjoyable as I can.

“As long as I am there I want to play and contribute.”

Arsenal won both their pre-season friendlies in Australia and are currently in China, where they will play German champions Bayern Munich tomorrow and Premier League champions Chelsea on Saturday.

Meanwhile England and Manchester City goalkeeper Joe Hart has been “hard done by” and deserves more respect, West Ham United captain Mark Noble said, as the shot stopper looks to complete a loan deal to the London club.

In a career spanning more than a decade, Hart has made 348 appearances for the Premier League club and has 71 caps for England but is not City manager Pep Guardiola’s first choice keeper and spent last season on loan at Italy’s Torino.

Noble says the competition for a starting spot among the keepers at West Ham will increase if Hart arrives as he contends with Adrian and Darren Randolph, and called for the 30-year-old to be given more respect.

“I’ve known Joe for a long time, we played for England U21s together years ago,” Noble told Sky Sports.

“He is obviously a fantastic goalie but at the minute he is not our player. We have got two really good goalies here so it would be more competition for them.

“In my opinion, he (Hart) has been a little bit hard done by in recent years. He has been fantastic for England and for his club for the last 10 years, and he probably deserves a little bit more respect.”

Hart passed a medical at West Ham last night and is close to completing a deal ahead of the team’s pre-season fixtures, which begin on Thursday against Championship side Fulham. His signature will put huge pressure on Ireland international goalkeeper Darren Randolph, who fell out of favour with Hammers boss Slaven Bilic in a difficult season for the club.

Elsewhere Newcastle have had an increased bid for Norwich winger Jacob Murphy accepted. The Magpies, who have been training at Carton House in Kidlare this week, had two earlier offers for the England U21 international turned down, but appear set to complete their third summer signing after increasing their bid to a reported £12.5m.

Murphy, 22, will travel back to Britain to discuss personal terms after being included in Norwich’s squad for their summer tour to Germany.


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