Sanchez to miss start of Arsenal sea­son with ‘flu’

The Sunday Telegraph - Sport - - Football - By Jeremy Wil­son

Arsene Wenger has per­mit­ted Alexis Sanchez ex­tended time off for “flu” that could threaten his par­tic­i­pa­tion in Arsenal’s first Premier League match but is adamant that his star striker must still see out the re­main­ing sea­son of his con­tract.

Sanchez posted a frown­ing pho­to­graph of him­self on In­sta­gram on Fri­day ac­com­pa­nied by the word ‘en­fermo’ – mean­ing “sick” – and there was then a text ex­change with Wenger. The 28-year-old had been due to re­port back for pre-sea­son train­ing to­day, but he is still out of the coun­try and will not now be back un­til at least Tues­day.

Arsenal face Chelsea in the Com­mu­nity Shield next Sun­day and, while Sanchez was never re­al­is­ti­cally in con­tention for that match fol­low­ing his par­tic­i­pa­tion in the Con­fed­er­a­tions Cup with Chile, his chances of start­ing against Le­ices­ter City a week on Fri­day are also rapidly re­ced­ing.

“He has flu,” said Wenger. “I had him on text yes­ter­day; he will come back as soon as pos­si­ble. We were in touch with him and his doc­tor. There is no ba­sic prob­lem ex­cept he should have come back. He comes back Tues­day.”

Wenger was will­ing to ac­cept Sanchez’s ac­count of his ill­ness, even though it will only com­pound fears the im­pres­sion that he wants to leave. The saga sur­round­ing his fu­ture is also threat­en­ing to over­shadow the start of Arsenal’s sea­son. “Your job is to be sus­pi­cious,” Wenger told jour­nal­ists. “Your job is built on mis­trust. My job is built on trust. That’s why I pre­fer mine.” Of Sanchez’s wider con­trac­tual sit­u­a­tion, Wenger said: “No de­vel­op­ment. It is al­ways the same. He is stay­ing. The play­ers who have a one-year con­tract have to re­spect their con­tract and play out their con­tract.”

Sanchez, though, has in­di­cated a de­sire to leave and com­pet­ing of­fers from Manchester City and Paris StGer­main are ex­pected im­mi­nently.

Wenger was asked specif­i­cally if Sanchez had told him dur­ing their text mes­sages whether he wanted to stay and it was no­tice­able that he re­fused to an­swer this point. “I can­not re­veal what he says al­ways,” said Wenger. “I can­not re­veal what are se­cret con­ver­sa­tions. He is fly­ing back as soon as he is in a po­si­tion to. He has the flu; it is a ques­tion nor­mally of four or five days.”

Arsenal have al­ready bought a po­ten­tial re­place­ment in Alexan­dre La­cazette and claim that their on­go­ing pur­suit of Monaco’s Thomas Le­mar is not re­lated to Sanchez, but he can also play to the left of a front three.

“You have al­ways to be on alert – that’s what we do,” said Wenger.

Theo Wal­cott and Olivier Giroud also put them­selves for­ward in the Emi­rates Cup yes­ter­day against Ben­fica as plau­si­ble in­ter­nal re­place­ments af­ter end­ing last sea­son as sub­sti­tutes. Wal­cott scored twice and also de­liv­ered a cross which prompted an own goal, while Giroud capped a typ­i­cally adept con­tri­bu­tion as the cen­tral fo­cal point for Arsenal’s at­tacks with a well-taken goal in an en­ter­tain­ing 5-2 win. Alex Iwobi was the other Arsenal goalscorer with a thump­ing strike.

Aside from Wal­cott and Giroud, there were also par­tic­u­larly im­pres­sive per­for­mances from wing-backs Reiss Nel­son and Sead Ko­lasinac, who was in­volved in three of the goals. Wenger also be­came in­volved in a bizarre ex­change with a pitch in­vader as the fan was be­ing forcibly dragged down the tun­nel.

“I said, ‘calm down’,” said Wenger. “He looked like he wanted to talk to me. I tried to know what he wanted to tell me.” Also play­ing in the Emi­rates Cup yes­ter­day were RB Liepzig, whose man­ager Ralph Hasen­huttl made it clear that his club will not be ac­cept­ing a bid from Liver­pool for Naby Keita that could reach £66 mil­lion. He did ad­mit, how­ever, that the sit­u­a­tion would be re­assessed next year. “The chance is nil,” said Hasen­huttl. “It’s 100 per cent clear Naby will play this year in Leipzig. Un­til next sum­mer we keep it closed and then we have a look.”

Sick note: Alexis Sanchez says he is ‘en­fermo’

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