LONDON. — Alexis Sanchez has piled the pressure on Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger by revealing that he is desperate to play in the Champions League.
The Chilean striker stated that it is his “dream” to play Champions League football, something he wouldn’t be able to do with Arsenal this season after they missed out on the top four. This is likely to alert the likes of Manchester City and Bayern Munich, two clubs who will be in the Ch
But manager Arsene Wenger believes Sanchez will stay and said on Saturday he had held “positive” talks with the player, who is currently in his hometown of Tocopilla in Chile on his post-season holiday, via text message.
Sanchez is out of contract at Arsenal next summer. Sanchez only has a year left on his current Gunners deal – with negotiations yet to kick off over a new deal. Manchester City and Bayern Munich are the front runners to bag Sanchez if he does push for a move.
And it looks like Arsenal will have their work cut out persuading him to sign an extension. That’s after the Chilean superstar admitted he wants to play in Europe’s major club competition next term.
Sanchez told broadcaster Sport Radio Chile: “I want to play in the Champions League. “I’ve made my decision, now I wait for Arsenal’s reply. “The idea is to play and win the Champions League. “I’ve dreamt about it since I was a kid.”
The star man is currently away from the rest of the Gunners squad in Australia – after being given extra time off this summer due to his Confederations Cup commitments.
Arsenal are only in the Europa League after finishing fifth in the Premier League last season. And that failure to finish in the top four could cost them the services of Sanchez.
Manchester City want the 28-year-old, but Arsenal are reluctant to sell to a domestic rival. However they may decide to cash-in now rather than lose him for nothing in 12 months time.
Gunners boss Wenger says he’s upbeat about keeping Sanchez after “positive” contact with the attacking ace. “Of course (he will stay).There is not a lot to resolve at the moment with the player,” Wenger said. “I have spoken (with him) through text and it was very positive. My thoughts are always positive.”
Earlier last week, the Frenchman denied that his star man had asked to leave Arsenal. Wenger also said he believes Jack Wilshere, who spent last season on loan at Bournemouth, will remain an Arsenal player next season, despite interest from Sampdoria among others, according to Sky in Italy.
“I think Jack will be with Arsenal next season, yes,” Wenger said. “I will give you a very focused answer on that; that he has to work hard to come back and fight for a place in the team.
“But once he is ready, when he comes back, he will not be far from practising with the team.” And club captain Per Mertesacker has admitted he hasn’t pleaded with Sanchez to remain at Arsenal.
Mertesacker has left Sanchez alone since the end of the season to make up his mind on his future — and quotes emerging on Saturday night don’t look good for the Gunners.
Manchester City are leading the chase for Sanchez, who has only 12 months left on his current deal and has been involved in a long-running stand-off.
World Cup winner Mertesacker said: “He needs a break now. He needs to relax. He has done a lot for us. He played almost every game last season and then the Confederations Cup.
“You need to leave him alone to make up his mind what he wants to do. It’s his decision. If he feels good, comfortable, he can play with freedom. He has his qualities. You cannot find those everywhere.
“He has shown them and we have embraced him.” Mertesacker enjoyed a fairy-tale finish to last season as Arsenal’s man-of-the-match in the FA Cup final and will carry on for one more year before heading up the club’s academy.
Despite his future being mapped out, Mertesacker is determined to make the most of his final season as a player.
The German barely played last season because of a knee injury, which is still being managed and is aware of the “captain’s curse”, which has seen every player given the armband – since Patrick Vieira left in 2005 – suffer a long-term injury.
Mertesacker admitted he was aware of it, adding: “It doesn’t matter to me. I have lots to give. As long as I am there, I want to play and contribute.
“Being able to train and make an impact makes me feel good. And pushing the other players is something I like because, when you are injured, you can do nothing, which was horrible for me.
“Last season was not satisfying for me. The end was a fairy tale, but the way to that was very tough. I want to stay injury-free, be an option for the manager, get picked every weekend. That’s the target.
“They manage me very well. I am not doing everything because nobody knows how my knee reacts. We are not overloading. I am fine, but I am not doing every double session. When we come to games, you will see the reaction.
“At the end of the season, that was OK, but I need to really find out how well I am when it comes to playing 90-minute games.” Mertesacker also has high hopes for Arsenal’s defensive protege Rob Holding, who has been given an extended break after the Euro Under-21s.
Mertesacker added: “It’s very important Rob sticks to what he has shown. Not being selected at the start, but still managing to do extra sessions. “He has a great character. If he does the same work with the same habits, there is lots to come. I am trying to help him as much as I can for the next step, playing regularly.
“Being out does not help, because of the Under-21 tournament, but it’s really important for him to recover.” — The Daily Star.