Arsene Wenger says Alexis Sanchez’s failed transfer deadline-day move to Manchester City was “not very close,” while also confirming that Monaco midfielder Thomas Lemar was the one who turned down a move to Arsenal.
Sources on Thursday said the Gunners had accepted an offer of £55 million plus a further £5m in add-ons for Sanchez, but the deal was dependent on Arsenal finding a replacement.
And after coming up short in their pursuit of Lemar, Arsenal held on to the Chile international — much to the chagrin of City, who had targeted him all summer.
However, Wenger told BeIN Sports that a deal for the former Barcelona forward was never close to a done deal.
“‘It was not very close,” Wenger said. “It’s very difficult for me to speak about that because what I want now is the player to focus on his career, on his season and Arsenal.
“I always think first, make sure that my commitment is at the level that is expected from people paying me and have confidence in me. On the player’s side it is exactly the same.”
Wenger added the club are prepared to make a “financial sacrifice” as they face losing Sanchez and midfielder Mesut Ozil for free next summer when their contracts expire.
“I can not tell you everything that happened because after you decide to let a player of that calibre go, you need to replace him because nobody would understand that you let the player go,” he said.
“When you can not do it you keep the player, and you make a financial sacrifice because at the end of the day what you want is to have a team with good potential and top quality.
“So Alexis Sanchez will go, like Mesut Ozil, in the final year of his contract, or you think that during the season you find a way to extend the contract, or at the end of the season the players go for free.”
A source confirmed to ESPN FC on Thursday that Arsenal had made a club-record £90 million bid for Lemar not long before the transfer window shut at 11 p.m. BST.
However, Lemar, who scored a pair of goals in France’s World Cup qualifying thrashing of the Netherlands that evening, was the one who ultimately refused the deal, according to Wenger.
“The player has chosen to stay at Monaco,” Wenger told BeIN. “I do not want to talk too much. You have to respect what really happens on the negotiation side.
“I know we live in an era of transparency but at some stage to respect everybody you have to not talk too much about that.”
Speaking to reporters after his standout performance against the Netherlands, the 21-year-old Lemar, who had also been linked to Liverpool this summer, said he was happy to stay with the 2016-17 Ligue 1 champions.
“I am a player of Monaco, I am very happy there,” Lemar, who joined from Caen for less than €4m in 2015, told Canal+.
“Now I am going to make a good season with my club, to try to progress and move forward in my career with Monaco.”
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