'It is a sacrifice that you have to calculate'

Arsene Wenger was asked about Alexis, Mesut Ozil, holding stars to their contracts and whether player power truly exists when he faced the media on Wednesday.

This is what he had to say:

on whether it’s his decision on Alexis…
It’s my decision, but after the board has to of course agree with me. And if they don’t agree we have to consider it as well, and I will accept it. But the board is behind me on that.

on the clubs having to make a financial sacrifice in this situation…
It is a financial sacrifice. It is a sacrifice that you have to calculate how much it costs. If you let the player go and you buy somebody you spend maybe more than you lose. And as well if you extend the contracts it costs you maybe more than you lose when you keep the player. So you have to consider the length of the contract as well that the players want. So all that is in consideration, the financial sacrifice is not as heavy as it looks.

on whether it’s an impossible equation to calculate…
You cannot. Anyway, you can have an estimation of what it costs if you lose the player, what it costs if you extend the player, and all that. What it costs if you buy a new player. You can do that, approximately. After that, the ratio between what the player will cost, what he brings back, this has gone. How can you quantify today what Neymar costs? Will he bring €300million back? It’s impossible to say. There is a part that is rational, and the other part is completely irrational: it is passion, ego, pride, you can call that how you want. How much is that worth financially? Maybe that’s down to every club.

on focusing on football rather than finances…
Of course. I am a football manager, I want Alexis to stay, and that’s it. After that, all the financial implications, for me, are less important. But at the end of the day you have to afford it as well, you must afford it. I want him to stay, I want him to extend his contract. But as well you have to be able to afford to pay him.

on football breaking the rules of economics…
There is a part that is not rational, that is called success. How much are you ready to pay for success? But on the other hand, you face a reality as well. At the end of the month, you have to face the fact that you have to pay your players and everybody at the club.

on not strengthening title rivals…
Look, every club has a different policy and you have to respect that. You analyse the age and the money you get, and I don’t say I never do it because I did it as well with Robin van Persie at the time when he was at the end of his contract and Man Utd paid good money. It’s not ideal because you strengthen your opponent and you weaken your team.

on whether he regrets selling Van Persie…
I just say I do not say never, because every situation is different and sometimes you are in a position where you have as well to consider the financial aspect of the situation. He had a good season, Van Persie. Did he make Man Utd win that year? I don’t know, it’s difficult to assess that.

on whether he is more more optimistic on Ozil signing a new deal than Alexis…
I am optimistic on both. Both players are happy at the club. So that, for me, after you have to meet their needs. Their needs are their desire for success and their needs are as well financial. I think if we can meet their needs on the pitch, there is more chance to extend their contracts.

on whether player power exists when clubs own the contracts…
Every club is different on that. I believe that the player power is there, but the clubs have as well resources to make their contracts respected. I think sometimes the media go a bit more in favour of the players maybe. So that makes sometimes the situation a bit more uncomfortable for the clubs. But overall, I think the powers are quite well balanced. You have a contract, the player has to respect the contract. You cannot really say it is player power.

on whether he is 100 per cent sure the Ox, Alexis and Ozil will stay…
One hundred per cent never exists, because never in our job never exists. But today, yes. And I think all the three will stay. I will fight for them to stay.

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