Arsene Wenger insists Alexis Sanchez will stay at Arsenal this summer – even if he refuses to sign a new contract.
The Chilean will have just one year remaining on his current deal at the end of the season and the Gunners will risk losing him for free next year if he fails to commit to new terms.
Chelsea, Manchester United and Manchester City have registered their interest in signing the 28-year-old, with reports claiming that Arsenal would accept a £50 million fee.
Wenger was faced with a similar situation in Robin van Persie’s transfer to Manchester United in August 2012 as the Dutchman was sold with one year to go on his contract.
But the Arsenal manager is adamant that he is not prepared to strengthen another title rival this summer.
‘If he doesn’t sign a new deal, will I make him stay? Yes,’ said Wenger.
‘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.’
Wenger also highlighted the importance of Arsenal considering Sanchez’s value across his four-year contract and the difficulty they face in finding a replacement which would represent a better alternative.
The Chilean cost £32 million from Barcelona, meaning that £8m would be deducted from any transfer fee they would receive for him this summer.
‘You amortise a transfer during the length of the contract,’ explained the Arsenal manager.
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‘So when you pay an amount of money and when the player signs a four-year contract, you deduct every year 25% of a contract.
‘The problem that you have to analyse, always, is: ‘Can you find better? For what kind of money?’
‘The inflation is so big that sometimes, even mathematically, there can be advantages to keep a player until the end of a contract.’