Money not everything to my players, says Arsene Wenger

Arsene Wenger believes earning more money should not be the only incentive for the world’s elite footballers — although he admits that his view may make him “naive”.

The Arsenal boss was reacting to reports both Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez are holding out for parity with the Premier League’s top earners as the duo continue to negotiate extensions to their current deals.

Talks with representatives for both players have been ongoing for some time but it has been claimed by the London Evening Standard that only about contracts that see Ozil and Sanchez move into the same pay league as the likes of Paul Pogba and Zlatan Ibrahimovic at Manchester United.

Wenger, talking in Switzerland ahead of his side’s final Champions League group game against Basle, said he believes there should be more to a top players’ ambition than simply earning a similar amount to their peers.

“I would like to say the luxury of the modern game should be it’s not only about the money, because the players make anyway wherever they play good money at this level,” he said.

“I believe, personally, and maybe I am a bit naive, but it’s more about getting to meet the players’ needs. That’s about the way the club has values, the way the club has ambition, the way the club respects the players.

“So I think, for me, that is more important nowadays and an important ingredient for every player to consider. The money is good everywhere for everybody.”

Wenger said it was normal for negotiations to be ongoing as the pair enter the final 18 months of their current deals, and said Ozil and Sanchez had very little to do with the talks.

He said: “You know, nowadays, you negotiate with the agents more than with the player. We are in negotiations, yes.

“The players have 18 months away from the end of their contracts, so it’s normal. But the players always come in at the end, when it’s a renewal, because with the first contract you need the players.

“But after that, when you renew, 90% of the contracts are negotiated with the agents.”

Arsenal look set to finish runners-ups in Group A, with Paris St Germain only needing to beat minnows Ludogorets at home to assure themselves of top spot. Despite that, Wenger has brought a strong squad with him to St. Jakob-Park, and hinted it can sometimes be more detrimental to rotate an in-form side following on from Sanchez’s hat-trick heroics in Saturday’s 5-1 win at West Ham.

“Tomorrow I will make a decision who will start or not,” said Wenger. “But, overall, the best way when a guy is in good success and confidence, it’s more dangerous to stop him than keep him going.”

Barring a shock result in Paris, Monday’s draw for the first knockout stage will once again see Arsenal at the mercy of the group winners. If those group winners are the current group leaders, Arsenal’s opponents will be one of Napoli, Barcelona, Atletico Madrid, Monaco, Borussia Dortmund, or Juventus.

“We’ll see what happens tomorrow with the final results. It looks quite even if you finish first or second. The advantage of finishing first is you play the second leg at home, and possibly 30 minutes of extra-time at home. We’ll see. PSG are favourites to beat Ludogorets at home and win the group, but we can assess that scoreline at half-time and see where we go.”

Basle coach Urs Fischer insists his side will go for the win against Arsenal - even though a draw could be enough to secure third place in their Champions League group. The Swiss champions lie bottom of Group A and are now looking to secure the one Europa League berth by leapfrogging Ludogorets into third place.

“We do not go into the game with the goal of a draw,” Fisher said. “That would be too dangerous. I think we need to score goals, especially against a team like Arsenal. I am a realist. What is clear is that we can win if we have a perfect day - and this is what it needs. If we want to beat a tough opponent like Arsenal, we need a perfect day.

“Arsenal have that quality that even when you think you are quite good, they still score a goal. Alexis Sanchez didn’t have to score three goals for us to know he is an excellent player. I did see the 5-1 match - West Ham dominated that match. What I could see is that Arsenal have really dynamic movement and good forward runs.”


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