By Richard Clarke
The decision to omit Jose Antonio Reyes from the starting XI at Dinamo Zagreb on Tuesday night will have sent conspiracy theorists into a frenzy.
The 22-year-old striker has been linked with a move to Real Madrid recently and, if you believe the newspapers, a deal was more likely if the Spaniard was not cup-tied in the Champions League. However Arsène Wenger denied that was the reason behind his decision to play Tomas Rosicky on the left flank after earlier saying the Czech midfielder would start the game on the bench.
"I felt Tomas was ready physically to play," said the manager. "Reyes, with all the noises made about his transfer with Real Madrid, had been unsettled. I did not think he had the right concentration to play.
"I just considered tonight's game and the fact he will be cup-tied or not did not come into my mind.
"I played the team tonight which I thought had a good chance to win the game."
"I did not send a message out," the manager told journalists in his post-match press conference. "You do that. I pick the team out with a good chance to win and we won 3-0 tonight. You can take all the conclusions you want. I consider the game and the way we could win, selling Reyes or not selling Reyes. I have not picked him before for games.
"You cannot see behind every decision I make [whether it is] to transfer players. Remember, I extended the contract of Reyes last year. So yes I am confident he will stay."
Copyright 2014 The Arsenal Football Club plc. Permission to use quotations from this article is granted subject to appropriate credit being given to www.arsenal.com as the source 9 Aug 2006