Football

Wenger: Sanchez's future up to Arsenal, not anyone else

Wenger says Sanchez is a committed player, but he can have excessive behaviour

ROUND OF 16, 2ND LEG

ARSENAL V BAYERN MUNICH

(Tomorrow, 3.45am, Singtel TV Ch 112 & StarHub TV Ch 212)

  • Bayern lead 5-1 from first leg

Arsene Wenger claimed yesterday that reports of a bust-up between Alexis Sanchez and his teammates were "completely false", as the Arsenal boss again defended the decision to drop him against Liverpool.

The Chile forward was surprisingly named as a substitute for last Saturday's 3-1 English Premier League defeat at Anfield.

Several newspapers claimed that Sanchez was left out due to an incident with his teammates before the match and he was said to have walked out in the middle of a training session last week after an argument.

Sanchez has cut an increasingly frustrated figure in recent games as Arsenal's trophy hopes have taken a hit.

The loss to Liverpool followed on from previous league defeats by Watford and Chelsea, while the Gunners face Bayern Munich in the second leg of their Champions League Round-of-16 tie tomorrow morning (Singapore time) having lost 5-1 in Germany last month.

Wenger claimed after the game last Saturday that Sanchez, who came on to provide the assist for Danny Welbeck's consolation strike, had been left out for tactical reasons.

The 28-year-old trained with the squad as normal on the eve of the Bayern clash and shook hands with Wenger, after he made his way onto the club's London Colney training pitch yesterday.

And, speaking to the media after the training session, Wenger insisted that there are no issues with Sanchez - even if some of his behaviour can be "excessive" at times.

"I am not aware, nothing at all," said the Frenchman.

"I explained after the game I decided to go for a more direct option, that was the unique reason for my decision."

Asked directly if the reports were true, Wenger said: "Completely false. I understand you have to fill newspapers.

"All the rest, his attitude - he's a committed player and sometimes has excessive behaviour - but you have that many times in the history of every squad.

"It's about the team performance, not individuals. It's a team sport and the most important thing is that we focus on our collective. Our game is built on collective expression.

"Alexis played in all the games and, when we didn't perform away from home, we lost as well.

CONTRACT TALK

"We lost at Man City, Liverpool and Chelsea, and that's what is the most important thing, to focus and produce as a team."

Wenger described his relationship with Sanchez as "honest and normal, like with every single player."

There have been constant questions over Sanchez's future as he has just over a year remaining on his current deal and is seeking parity with the league's top-paid players.

But Wenger, whose own fate at the Emirates Stadium is also uncertain with his contract up in the summer, said it will be up to the club if Sanchez is still an Arsenal player next season.

"Alexis has 15 months of his contract, so the decision of will he be here or not will depend completely on Arsenal Football Club and not on anybody else," he said.

"The definition of a happy person is very difficult, I have never found an ideal situation.

"I hope he will be very happy tomorrow night. Let's not project ourselves too far.

"Short-term happiness is easier to get than long-term happiness, so let's just focus on the short term."

While Wenger said he had not decided whether to recall Sanchez into his first XI for the game against Bayern, the player posted on Instagram shortly after the conclusion of the press conference, showing three pictures of him in his Arsenal kit and with a cryptic message which he ended with a note to supporters.

"The true warrior fights not because he hates the ones in front of him, but because he loves those behind him. Let's go Gunners. The only failure is not trying," he wrote.

Speaking on his own future, Wenger interjected a question aimed at Per Mertesacker when the defender was asked if the players want the Frenchman to remain next year.

"Honestly, I don't think it's down to the players to choose a manager," he said.

"Your questions are not adjusted to the press conference when preparing for a game. The players have to perform.

"The board chooses the manager. It's your bosses who choose whether you're here or not.

"I can understand that I am criticised after these results, but it's not down to the players to choose the manager.

"The players have to perform for this football club.

"We are at the best club in the world and we have to show pride and commitment to defend the pride of this club.

"It's not about the politics. We are not at a political club here, we are judged on performance. I have to perform and the players have to perform."

- PA SPORT

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