Press conference

What's the latest on Alexis and Mkhitaryan?

There was one big topic of conversation at Thursday's press conference: the futures of Alexis and Henrikh Mkhitaryan.

Arsene Wenger was questioned in detail about a potential deal that would see Alexis head to Manchester United and Mkhitaryan come to us.

This is what the Arsenal manager said:

on the latest on Alexis to Man Utd…
That is a story where you are well-documented in the media. I have not a lot to add to that. It can happen, it can as well not happen.

on if it’s still at that ‘maybe, maybe not’ stage…
Yes, that stage.

on if Alexis could play for Arsenal again…
Yes, of course. If it doesn’t happen, he will play on Saturday.

on how likely the transfer is to happen in the next 24 hours…
I’ve worked on transfers for 30 years, so it is likely to happen. But at any moment, at any minute, things can break down. That’s how the transfer market is. As long as it’s not over the line, you have to accept that it can as well not happen. These kind of things are never guaranteed.

on if Mkhitaryan would come the other way in any deal…
That is my understanding, yes.


Alexis scores against Liverpool

on if he likes Mkhitaryan …
Yes, of course. If it’s a possibility, it’s because I like the player.

on Mkhitaryan liking Arsenal…
Yes, we played many times against him when he was at Dortmund. He certainly appreciated the quality of our game and the way we play football. That’s why certainly he loves the club as well.

on if wages would be an obstacle…
No, the wages would not be a problem.

on if Mkhitaryan would be an Alexis replacement…
Look, this would be an exchange of players, and I think one would replace the other. Are we still on the transfer market after that? Yes.

on whether he regrets not selling Alexis in the summer…
Look, the problem was exactly similar to what it is today. I only accept to let him go if somebody else comes in for him and it was not possible in the summer. I would have done it, but it was not possible as it happened very late on the last day of the transfer market and that’s why it didn’t happen. Overall, if it happens now it is because somebody else comes in for him.


Alexis scores on the half volley

on reports of Alexis receiving a big wage increase at Manchester United…
I wouldn’t like to comment on the numbers because that’s Manchester United’s problem. If they want to come out with the numbers they’ve offered to Sanchez… I respect Manchester United because they generate the money they pay to the players from their own resources. You have to respect that. After that, it’s down to them to know how much they want to give to the player. Overall, Manchester United is a club that is very well managed financially and on the pitch as well. That’s why I don’t have any problems with the money they pay.

on whether it will skew the transfer market and wages other clubs pay…
Modern football has created a kind of game where the best players in the game are grouped to a various small number of clubs. That makes football less unpredictable and much more predictable. I would say the gap in financial resources between the biggest clubs and the smaller clubs has increased tremendously in the last five years.

on whether Alexis’ decision comes down to money…
No because they are professional players. I have no problem with Alexis Sanchez. His attitude has been outstanding with us. He was in training yesterday, fully committed and prepared 100 per cent. One thing you cannot question about Alexis Sanchez is his professionalism and his commitment. After that, he’s 29 years old and the next contract will of course be very important for him.


Alexis seals the win over Tottenham

on whether Arsenal can’t compete with United and City’s wage offers…
Yes, financially yes. That doesn’t mean that you cannot compete on the pitch. That will not be an excuse big enough to not compete on the pitch. Of course, there’s no mystery that United and City have bigger financial resources.

on whether Arsenal will have to tweak the wage structure to pay top players more…
That would need a longer explanation than just a short press conference. It’s debatable but not feasible. I do not want to come out with the numbers now because I feel it would not be the right moment. We did the maximum we could afford to do. One day maybe I will come out on that. Today’s not the moment.

on whether Alexis will play if a deal isn’t done…
Yes because it’s the deadline now. I left him out at Bournemouth because I was scared that the transfer would happen before we played Bournemouth. It was already quite advanced so I didn’t want to be in the position where I tried with him and he has to go back, so he doesn’t play.

on him being in the right frame of mind to play…
As you said - you’re well informed - it’s now in the next 24 to 48 hours that it will happen or not.

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