Sanchez to miss start of Arsenal season with ‘flu’
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’