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Tuesday, July 18, 2017
Arsene Wenger has confirmed he will not sell Alexis Sanchez this summer - and added that if the Chilean is so fond of the Champions League he should give his all to ensure Arsenal qualify next season.
Public remarks from Sanchez about his desire to be involved in Europe's top club competition have fuelled the theory he is trying to bolt for the Emirates Stadium exit before the transfer market closes.
Wenger, however, will not be swayed from his decision to make him honour the final year of his current contract even if he continues to reject a proposed new deal, thought to be worth more than £300,000 a week.
'We have played for 20 years in the Champions League,' said the Arsenal boss.
'That's 17 years before Sanchez arrived and three years with him. So he can get us back in there.
'When you play in the Champions League, everyone says: Is that all you do? Suddenly when you don't play in there it becomes a major problem.
'At the end of the season, only one team can win the Champions League.
'We have to focus on the competitions we play in and prepare seriously for that. We can't feel sorry for what we do not play.
Arsenal will compete in the Europa League in the campaign ahead but the manager admits the top target is to win the Premier League title for the first time since 2004.
'The main focus for us is to concentrate on the Premier League,' said Wenger.
'The Premier League for me today is more important than the Champions League.
We rested sometimes players in the group stages of the Champions League for the Premier League, so that's become the biggest importance for us.
Wenger is on tour with his team in China – they face Bayern Munich in a friendly on Wednesday - and has not made contact with Sanchez since his contentious remarks, made on a Chilean radio station.
Sanchez, not on the tour because of his extended international duty in the Confederations Cup, is wanted by Manchester City.
Arsenal sold their best player to a title rival in 2012 when captain Robin van Persie was sold to Manchester United when he refused to extend a contract which was into its final 12 months.
'Every case is different,' said Wenger. 'Van Persie was going from 30 to 31 and when he left he had one year on his contract.
'Sanchez is younger. It is difficult to speak at the moment about that but the decision has been made and we will stick to that. The decision is not to sell.'
Bayern were also heavily linked with a move for Sanchez this year but manager Carlo Ancelotti said it was ruled out when it became clear Arsenal did not want to sell.
'We talked about Sanchez in the past, in the last two months,' said Ancelotti. 'The clubs spoke about this but there was no opportunity and if there was no chance of a transfer then we thought about other players.'
The German champions have signed James Rodriguez on a two-year loan from Real Madrid.