Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger doesn’t think Manchester City will make an approach for Alexis Sanchez in the January transfer window and has questioned whether the Premier League leaders even need the Chile international.
Wenger is expecting Sanchez to stay with the Gunners beyond the winter transfer window, no matter whether City show interest, according to David Hytner of the Guardian: “You say everybody thinks City will come in for Alexis [in January]—I am part of everybody and I don’t think he will go. Do City need him? They have to decide that. But we need him here.”
The Arsenal boss was speaking ahead of his side’s league match against City on Sunday. Wenger made it clear Sanchez’s mind won’t be elsewhere at the Etihad Stadium.
Sanchez may have little choice but to remain focused on life with the Gunners, even though his contract expires next summer. Wenger’s doubts on another bid for Sanchez from the Premier League leaders comes on the heels of City manager Pep Guardiola’s refusal to discuss any forthcoming offer for the attacker.
“You know my opinion on the players I have [and] Alexis—you know my opinion, but he’s an Arsenal player,” the City boss said, per Press Association Sport (h/t Eurosport). “It’s not correct to talk about that, especially before we play them.”
The Manchester club wasn’t shy about bidding for Sanchez on the final day of the summer transfer window, offering an initial £55 million and £5 million more in add-ons, per BBC Sport’s David Ornstein.
City can keep their hopes of signing Sanchez alive by remembering he has yet to agree new terms with Arsenal. Wenger downplayed the issue of Sanchez’s future somewhat, per Hytner: “Might he re-sign? Before Sunday, certainly not.”
Losing Sanchez would significantly reduce Arsenal’s attacking threat. The 28-year-old possesses vision, flair and an eye for goal no other player in Wenger’s squad can match.
It’s why the Gunners boss will be counting on keeping his attacking talisman beyond January. He knows how much his squad will need its one genuine match-winner to keep their prospects of a top-four finish and winning the UEFA Europa League alive.
As he’s so often done in the past, Wenger might choose to replace a key star with a burgeoning young talent. One player on the radar could be wantaway Chelsea youngster Charly Musonda.
The 21-year-old forward has reportedly been the subject of an approach from Arsenal, per French source Foot Mercato (h/t Metro). However, John Cross of the Daily Mirror revealed the Gunners will prioritise the development of the 17-year-old Reiss Nelson over signing Belgium U21 international, even though the latter “has told Chelsea he wants to quit the club in January.”
Musonda’s desire to leave the Blues could present an obvious opportunity for Wenger. The Arsenal chief has made a career out of building competitive teams around young talent.
Wenger is already putting together his latest core, with Nelson, the 20-year-old Ainsley Maitland-Niles, the 21-year-old Alex Iwobi and the 18-year-old Joe Willock at the heart of it.
Willock recently signed a new contract, per James Benge of the London Evening Standard. Meanwhile, Benge also revealed the Gunners are planning to extend Nelson’s deal.
Adding Musonda to the mix would ensure Arsenal have a bedrock of budding young stars to cover the potential departures of both Sanchez and fellow contract rebel Mesut Ozil.
In the meantime, Wenger will continue to rely on Sanchez and his ability to decide games in an instant, a quality sure to be decisive in determining the fate of the Gunners’ season.