Arsene Wenger insists it is completely his decision not to sell Alexis Sanchez this summer with the Arsenal boss ready to take the risk of losing him for nothing in a year’s time.
The Gunners boss is expected to play hard-ball with Sanchez as he does not want to lose his talisman to Premier League rivals Manchester City.
In the past Wenger has been powerless to turn down City’s millions for the likes of Emmanuel Adebayor, Samir Nasri and Kolo Toure as Arsenal were paying off the building costs of the Emirates Stadium.
Now they have no such financial obligations and Wenger has reiterated he would rather Sanchez walk away for free next year than sell him now.
Sanchez is odds-on at to remain with Arsenal once the transfer window slams shut and Manchester City are to sign the forward if a deal can be completed.
Chelsea (), Bayern Munich () and Monaco () have also been linked with the Chile international, who cut a frustrated figure at times last season as Arsenal finished fifth.
Losing Sanchez without a fee would be seen as a huge loss for a player who could command a huge price-tag even in the final year of his contract.
But Wenger says the decision is in his hands and he wants to keep the player at the club for the forthcoming season.
“Yes, the board supports me to make the decisions on a technical front,” Wenger replied when asked if he had 100 per cent backing from the board to decide who comes and who leaves.
“I can tell you is that he is focused, and my decision is clear: he will stay and he will respect that. It is as simple as that.
“Every negotiation has to be a little bit secret. The transparency of society is very pushy but we have to resist a little bit, as much as we can. I think he will be here this season, and if we can do it for more seasons we will do it as well.”
While Wenger prepares to lay down the law with Sanchez, he appears set to take a different approach with England midfielder Jack Wilshere.
The 25-year-old has struggled with injuries in recent seasons and will miss the start of the new campaign as he recovers from a leg fracture.
Wilshere spent last season on loan at Bournemouth but, despite remaining fit, he failed to make a lasting impression on the south coast and ended the year in and out of Eddie Howe’s side.
Like Sanchez, Wilshere has less than a year left on his current deal and Wenger admits he must have a difficult discussion with the player over where his future lies.
Asked whether he expects Wilshere to stay at Arsenal, Wenger said: “That decision is not completely made, I want him to have a chance to play somewhere as well.
“We have to decide that a bit later. I wanted first him to come back, he is coming out of a fracture. It is the first week he is back in full training and we have to sit down together and see where we go from there.
“Yes (it will be a difficult conversation). I made him start at a very young age. He has gone through difficult times, I want him to have the career he can have and I am quite open on that.”
Pushed on whether the time had passed for Wilshere to establish himself as a first-team regular with the Gunners, Wenger added: “It is not passed because he has the talent to be regular, but he has to come back to competition in a consistent way.”
Wilshere will definitely miss Sunday’s Community Shield meeting with champions Chelsea – as will Francis Coquelin and long-term absentees Gabriel and Santi Cazorla.
Wenger has a decision to make on whether to include Sanchez and Shkodran Mustafi following their Confederations Cup exertions but Aaron Ramsey and Mesut Ozil should overcome minor knocks to be involved at Wembley.