Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has conceded that the club may decide to cut their losses and sell star duo Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil in the January transfer window.
Wenger steadfastly insisted all summer that Sanchez would be held to the final year of his contract even if it meant the player exercising his right to leave for free at the end of the season.
That position shifted in the final week of August when Arsenal indicated a willingness to accept a £60m offer from Manchester City for the 28-year-old Chile forward, although a deal collapsed.
Wenger maintains that he has not given up hope of persuading Sanchez and Ozil, who is also in the final year of his contract, to recommit to the Gunners but has given the clearest indication yet that he may be running out of patience.
“Once you are in our kind of situation we have envisaged every kind of solution,” he said. “Yes, it’s possible.”
Ozil has been linked with Manchester United and a reunion with his former Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho, although his agent appeared to hint at a possible rapprochement with Arsenal this week.
“That’s my understanding, yes,” Wenger added. “I always said that the fact that we didn’t find an agreement last year doesn’t mean the player will necessarily leave. Both players look happy here and overall I hope that the situation can be turned around.”
Wenger played down concerns that the failure of Chile and Wales to reach next summer’s World Cup finals in Russia might demotivate Sanchez and Aaron Ramsey for the rest of the campaign.
“I don’t think so,” he said. “I believe him [Sanchez], like Aaron Ramsey, are winners. They want to focus on winning things. I believe the World Cup is a stimulant – I don’t deny that – but when you don’t have it you focus on your club and what you can achieve with your club.”
Sanchez, who has scored 73 goals for Arsenal since a £35m move from Barcelona in 2014, will only return to training on Friday following international duty and is a doubt for Saturday’s trip to Watford.
Ozil and forward Danny Welbeck have recovered from injuries and are back in contention for the Premier League fixture, but Wenger has problems in defence, with Laurent Koscielny and Sead Kolasinac subject to fitness tests and Shkodran Mustafi ruled out for four to six weeks.
Wenger expects injury-plagued midfielder Jack Wilshere to be named in England’s World Cup squad if he is fit at the end of the season.
Wilshere spent last term on loan at Bournemouth and has been used sparingly on his return but Wenger denied he needed to leave in order to win back his place in the national squad.
“I believe that Jack at the moment is in the best form that I have seen him for a long time,” he said. “He’s very close now to being considered like anybody else. I don’t think he needs to leave Arsenal to go to the World Cup. If he keeps going like he is I think he will go to the World Cup. I don’t see him being fully fit and not going to the World Cup.”