Arsene Wenger faced the media on Thursday and was asked at length about the long-term futures of both Mesut Ozil and Alexis.
Both players have been in sensational form this season, and the boss was quizzed about his plans to try to tie them to new contracts.
This is what he had to say:
on Ozil and Alexis’ contributions this season…They have been hugely important. You can talk a lot in the press conference but the most important thing is what the players do on the pitch. The commitment of Alexis and Ozil is absolutely totally for the team’s benefit and I’m very pleased with that. We are professional football people and people forget many times that the first quality of a professional guy is to give absolutely 100 per cent as long as he is somewhere, and not to project yourself on two years. It’s here and now, that’s what it means to be professional - here and now I’m fully committed to the cause and that’s what it’s about.
on why Ozil and Alexis have been so prolific…I would say that our chances created are cleaner and clearer, and that’s why our finishing is better. We create good quality chances because we have a good team dynamic, and that’s what we want to create at home as well. I feel away from home we play with freedom because we have a good level of confidence and at home we have to let the handbrake go as well and play with full flow. Then we will score more goals.
on Ozil and Alexis’ long-term future…It depends what you call the long term. Eighteen months [left on their contracts] is quite long in football.
on what assurances he can give about their contracts…They have 18 months left on their contracts and they are completely committed to doing well as long as they are here. Beyond that, we’ll try to extend their contracts but I cannot make that the subject in every press conference because it’s a normal part of every renewal when you renegotiate. The less you talk about it, the better it is.
on Alexis being offered £400,000 per week to play in China…I believe it, yes, why not? But why should you go to China when you’re playing in England today?
on whether discussing contracts is the worst part of being a manager…No. It has always been a part of my job and it has always been difficult. But the problem is when the players have a big name, it’s a repetition of always the same things because you are always asked exactly the same things. But that doesn’t improve the speed of the negotiations. It doesn’t improve the speed of decision making. You have to respect the process in every single negotiation. Sometimes it goes very quick, sometimes it’s slow. The only handicap when it’s slow is that you get that served in every press conference.
on whether he is worried the uncertainty affects the dressing room…No, because we are all professionals. Eighteen months is a long time in the game and I don’t believe that that is any problem.
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