Alexis Sanchez’s declaration that he wants to play Champions League football next season was mistranslated, according to Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger.
In an interview with Canal 13 in Chile this week, Sanchez was quoted as saying: “I want to play Champions League. The decision does not depend on me, I have to wait for Arsenal.”
His apparent desire to leave the Gunners came after they missed out on qualification for Europe’s elite club competition for the first time in 20 years last season – Arsenal finishing fifth despite Sanchez’s career-best 24 league goals.
However, Wenger insists the Chile international’s comments were lost in translation and he has challenged Sanchez to fire Arsenal back into the top four next term.
“I do not give too much importance to things that are translated,” Wenger said at a media conference in Shanghai on Tuesday. “What I got, he didn’t really mean that.
“We have played for 20 years in the Champions League. That’s 17 years before Sanchez arrived and three years with him. So he can get us back in there.
“When you play in the Champions League, everyone says: ‘Is that all you do?’ Suddenly when you don’t play in there it becomes a major problem.
“At the end of the season, only one team can win the Champions League.
“For us the main focus is the Premier League, and the Premier League for me these days is more important than the Champions League.
“We have rested sometimes players in the group stage of the Champions League for the Premier League so it has become most important for us.”
Manchester City have been strongly linked with a move for the Chile international, with Bayern Munich – who Arsenal play in the International Champions Cup on Wednesday – and Paris Saint-Germain also reportedly among his admirers.