In Brief

Wenger 'will not sell Sanchez or Ozil' – but is he bluffing?

The Arsenal manager claims he will let his two biggest stars wind down their contracts rather than offload them this summer

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has insisted that Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil remain committed to Arsenal and that the contract stand-off involving the two players has not affected the Gunners dressing room. But he has also refused to rule out the possibility that both players could leave when their contracts expire at the end of next season.

Speaking on Thursday, the Gunners boss said he would not sell them before the end of their deals, as he did when he offloaded Robin van Persie to Manchester United for £20m in 2012.

"These players have 18 months on their contracts and, no matter what happens, they will stay for 18 months. Hopefully they'll stay for longer than that," he said.

"Will it impact the dressing room? No, we are professionals. 18 months is a long time and I don't believe that is any problem... Their commitment is absolutely total. The first quality of a professional guy is to give 100 per cent. It's here and now, that's what it means to be professional.”

But the Daily Mail reports that Arsenal "will have to smash its existing wage structure" to keep the two stars. Sanchez is said to be on £130,000 a week and Ozil £140,000 a week and they want significant pay rises to stay.

"That poses a serious dilemma for Arsenal as the clock ticks down on their current deals," adds the paper.

The two want to be paid the same, says the Daily Telegraph, and that is a cause for concern. "Arsenal could afford to pay £15m-a-year, £288,000-a-week, to one of them but it is unlikely they would sanction such a big contract for both men."

The paper believes that contrary to Wenger's assertion the Gunners would "reluctantly" listen to offers for Ozil at the end of this season.

"While Wenger and Arsenal have no desire to let Ozil go, it would appear the club think he would be easier to replace than Sanchez."

Money isn't the only problem, says Mail columnist Martin Keown. "It may take winning the Premier League to get both signatures in the bag," he believes.

"Arsenal won't be held to ransom – we've seen this with Robin van Persie. But if they leave it 18 months and the pair leave on a free then that's the best part of £72m gone. Arsenal would need to spend at least £100m to replace them. They need to get these two signed up."

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