Belfast Telegraph

Speculation won't affect star Arsenal duo, says Arsene Wenger

Arsene Wenger insists he has no concerns that the constant speculation over the futures of Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil will have an impact on their form for Arsenal.

Both players have just 18 months left to run on their current contracts and reports in recent weeks have suggested the pair want parity with the Premier League's top earners if they are to sign extensions at the Emirates Stadium.

There has been increased speculation over Sanchez, with claims that a huge offer from the Chinese Super League for his services is imminent.

Newspaper reports on Friday morning claimed former Manchester City boss Manuel Pellegrini is ready to make a move for his fellow Chilean, with wages as high as £500,000 a week apparently on offer,

Pellegrini, now in charge of Hebei China Fortune, is quoted by The Sun as saying: "If Alexis wants to come, we have a club for him right now. He can come to join us in China immediately."

But Wenger, who was once again prickly when pushed further on contract news for the key duo, remained unmoved when asked if the situation could affect Sanchez and Ozil on the pitch as Arsenal look to bounce back from defeat at Everton when they travel to face Manchester City on Sunday afternoon.

Asked if he had concerns that lengthy contract talks could have an impact on the players, the Frenchman replied: "There is no concern, not at all. There is no concern, I answer you straight away.

"You waste your time because these players have 18 months (left on their) contract and I don't see why there is any urgency in every press conference to have that question.

"Maybe you lack a bit of creativity in the newspapers and you always come up with the same subject. I don't see why that should turn up in every press conference.

"If people want to go to China, they go to China. You can understand that I have completely different worries than China today ahead of the Manchester City game."

Arsenal have the financial ability to pay Sanchez and Ozil what they are asking for, even if it means breaking the club's wage structure, after years of being unable to compete with Europe's richest teams.

In the past, Wenger has lost some of his top talent to City with the likes of Samir Nasri, Emmanuel Adebayor, Gael Clichy, Kolo Toure and Bacary Sagna all moving to the Etihad Stadium as Arsenal looked to balance the books following their move to the Emirates.

Wenger joked that City had been "good clients" for Arsenal in the past but now insists the north Londoners are not as vulnerable as they once were, even if the backers of the City Football Group mean the north-west side remain in a stronger position.

"It has reduced but it is still there," Wenger said, when asked if the financial gap between the two clubs had lessened.

"We are not (as vulnerable) because today I feel we can give financial satisfaction and support ambitions and values that can make the players happy at this club.

"Before, perhaps the financial gap was too big a difference to keep our players. We could not compete, we had to sell players."

Arsenal travel to Manchester having lost for just the second time in the league this season at Everton, who took all three points through Ashley Williams' late header.

Wenger will have the same squad at his disposal but he did reveal that Aaron Ramsey should return to training next week following a hamstring problem, and Danny Welbeck is closing in on a return having not featured since the 2-2 draw at City in May.

"Danny Welbeck is one week away from completing normal training to be back in the squad," he added.

"But of course that will take some time because now he hasn't played for a long, long time."

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