(Reuters) - Manager Arsene Wenger said on Thursday that Arsenal would not sell Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil even if the pair fail to agree fresh terms with the Premier League club.
Both players are in the final 18 months of their contracts and British media report that negotiations have faltered over salary demands, with Arsenal unwilling to break its current wage structure to retain them.
The reports suggested Arsenal might cash in on Sanchez or Ozil in the close season, but Wenger told a news conference the club is doing all it can to tie them down to fresh terms.
“These players will stay for at least 18 months,” he said. “We are professional people and we work until the last day of our contract with full commitment.”
The Frenchman did not offer assurances that the duo, who have been instrumental in Arsenal’s rise to second in the table and qualification for the Champions League group stages, would be at the Emirates Stadium once their current deals end.
”I‘m not the only one who can decide that,“ he added. ”They have 18 months (left on their) contracts and are completely committed to do well as long as they are here.
”Beyond that, we will try to extend their contract but I cannot make a subject of that in every press conference.
“No matter what happens they will stay for 18 months and hopefully for much longer.”
Sanchez has been thriving in a central striking role for Arsenal this season, scoring 13 goals in 20 appearances and keeping Olivier Giroud out of the side. Ozil has been in equally impressive form, with eight goals in 19 appearances.
Wenger’s team have not lost in the league since the opening day of the season, and won 5-1 at West Ham United last weekend. Arsenal host ninth-placed Stoke City on Saturday.
“We are playing well but have plenty of room for improvement,” Wenger said.
“We want to develop as a team and that is what we have done since the start of the season. We had a difficult start but responded very well. I feel the team is on the way upwards.”
Francis Coquelin is back from suspension for the Stoke game, while full back Hector Bellerin faces a late fitness test. Striker Danny Welbeck and centre back Per Mertesacker are still unavailable.
Reporting by Simon Jennings in Bengaluru, editing by Neil Robinson