Sanchez back in London
LONDON. — Alexis Sanchez arrived back in London yesterday after his expected Arsenal return was delayed due to illness.
There were fears the Chilean may not report back to the club’s HQ as he looks to force his way out of the Emirates Stadium, with Manchester City his preferred destination, but Sanchez has allayed concerns of a potential no-show by reporting back to the club’s training ground as expected.
The club confirmed Sanchez’s return tweeting a picture of him smiling at the training ground, with the caption: “Look who’s back in training”.
Earlier, Sanchez touched down on British soil ahead of his return, and shared a picture after stepping off his private jet in London, alongside his two dogs Atom and Humber.
He was initially pictured at Santiago Airport alongside his lawyer Ruben Inostroza on Sunday, as he boarded a flight to London via Paris.
His brief stop-off in France led to some fans questioning whether PSG is his next destination, while Manchester City supporters are still hopeful he will arrive at the Etihad.
Sanchez, who is attracting interest from Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain, according to Sky sources, flew from Chile via Paris with his lawyer and headed to the club’s London Colney training ground in the afternoon.
Sky Sports News understands the route was purely coincidental and it is normal for South American players to stop off in places such as Paris and Madrid for refuelling.
The 28-year-old forward was intended to report back at the club’s base on Sunday but was granted an extended leave while he recovered from sickness following his participation in the Confederations Cup.
Sanchez subsequently missed Arsenal’s 5-2 win over Benfica, but after the game manager Arsene Wenger insisted the player would be returning this week to honour the remaining year on his contract.
When asked whether he felt Sanchez’s illness is a convenient excuse to prolong his absence from the club, Wenger said: “Your job is to be suspicious and is built on mistrust and my job is built on trust! That’s why I prefer my side [of the story].”
Following a bout of flu and a long flight, Arsenal doctors will check how Sanchez is before deciding when he should begin pre-season training. Sanchez is scheduled to be at the Arsenal members open training session at the Emirates tomorrow, although he is unlikely to be involved in the entire session.
Regardless of his next move, Sanchez has returned to Arsenal as Wenger looks to keep his star man.
The forward wants to play Champions League football but despite Manchester City’s interest, Wenger has insisted that he will not be sold, despite having only a year left on his contract.
“There is no development in his future it is always the same. He is staying, of course,” Wenger said last week. Asked whether Sanchez has told him he wants to leave, Wenger added: “I cannot reveal what he says, I can’t reveal secret conversations.”
City are said to be confident he will join but Gunners chief executive Ivan Gazidis promised that this summer would be a “catalyst for change”. Both boss and board agree that they need to retain Sanchez, even if he runs down his current deal.
Wenger’s reasoning has always been that with 30 goals and 19 assists last season, Sanchez is irreplaceable and if Arsenal’s long-promised challenge for a title is to materialise, there is no player who could offer them those kind of statistics.
Sportsmail understands City are willing to pay Sanchez £320 000 a week, and with the added bonus of Champions League football it is an attractive proposition.
That contract would make him City’s highest earner, no mean feat given the club’s high-profile names, and that will also be topped up by various performance-related bonuses and image rights.
City players would offer a warm welcome to Sanchez and Claudio Bravo told 24 Horas: ‘If he decides to go, we’ll wait for him with open arms.’
Meanwhile, Arsenal have not given up on signing Monaco’s Thomas Lemar — although it will take a club record £60million fee to get him. — Sky Sports