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Sanchez, Ozil keen to stay: Wenger

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger believes midfielder Mesut Ozil and striker are keen on extending their contracts beyond the end of next season with the English Premier League soccer club.

<> at Emirates Stadium on March 11, 2017 in London, England.

Wenger is confident Ozil and Sanchez will be staying at the Emirates next season.

Both players are under contract until the summer of 2018, but speculation over their futures has been widespread in recent weeks as the club’s on-field struggles continue.

Ozil and Sanchez are holding out for a huge increase in their salary, according to British media reports, while Wenger has previously said that contract talks are on hold until the end of the season.

Sanchez, who has indicated he would like to see out his contract, is the club’s top scorer with 22 goals this season.

In particular, Sanchez has been linked with a move to Chelsea following recent claims he wants to stay in London, but at a club with a ‘winning mentality’.

Sanchez was dropped for the recent trip to Liverpool for disciplinary reasons but his manager, who is preparing for the match against Manchester City on Sunday, believes the Chile striker may have been misquoted during the international break.

“I personally believe both of them (Sanchez and Ozil) want to stay. I hope the club will find an agreement with them,” Wenger told reporters yesterday.

“Once you go into the final two or three months of the season, everybody is focused on the season. You give yourself a moment to relax.

“He (Ozil) is in contention to start again. He played 20 minutes against Azerbaijan. He has worked very hard this week.”

Calls for Wenger to end his 20-year role have grown louder after Arsenal crashed out of the Champions League in the last-16 for a seventh straight season and lost four of their last five league matches to slide down to sixth.

Wenger is keen to extend his stay, according to British media reports, but said his future at the club is far from certain.

The Arsenal manager said his future was ‘not sorted completely’ as he ducked another opportunity to make an announcement about what he intends to do.

Wenger, Arsenal’s manager since 1996, has come under fire from fans after the club were humiliated by Bayern Munich in the Champions League and dropped out of the Premier League top four.

The Frenchman said recently that he would make an announcement on his future ‘very soon’, but he did not divulge any new information when invited to do so at his weekly press conference.

“Not today, but I’m very clear in my mind,” he told reporters at Arsenal’s London Colney training base when asked if there was any news on his future.

“Do I stay two months or two years? My commitment will be exactly the same. The time I spent here doesn’t influence at all my attitude.

“I’ve always been very clear in my mind, but I think it’s a subject that is not sorted completely out.” Wenger is reported to have been offered a new two-year contract by Arsenal.

It is 13 years since Arsenal last won the league and their 10-2 aggregate defeat by Bayern condemned them to a seventh successive last 16 exit in the Champions League.

The north London club are sixth in the Premier League table ahead of Sunday’s home game with Manchester City, having lost four of their last five games.

But Wenger dismissed the suggestion that the uncertainty about his future was having a negative impact on his players.

“No, I believe the priority in life is always to focus on what is important and not to look for excuses,” he said.

“At the moment our results are not going the way they should, but we have to make sure the priority is what happens on the pitch.”

Wenger also reacted to comments attributed to star forward Sanchez in the Chilean media.

Sanchez, said to be a target for Premier League leaders Chelsea, is reported to have said he is ‘happy in London’, but wants to play for a team with a ‘winning mentality’.

“There’s only one team in London, so he’s happy,” Wenger joked.

“I think personally he’s happy here. It’s true we haven’t extended his contract yet. I hope he’ll stay at the club.

“You always have to be cautious when people give interviews in their home countries because the interpretation is not always what they wanted to say.

“But I don’t see anything negative. He said he wants to win the championship. That’s what everybody wants and I can understand that completely.”

Both Sanchez and German playmaker Ozil are stalling over new contracts, but Wenger expressed confidence they will both elect to stay at the Emirates Stadium.

Wenger said Ozil was in line to make his first league appearance since February 11 against City following illness and a hamstring injury. But Spanish midfielder Santi Cazorla is not expected to feature again this season due to an Achilles problem.

“I think the season is over for him,” Wenger said.

Goalkeeper Petr Cech, who limped off during Arsenal’s loss at West Bromwich Albion this month, is expected to miss the next two games with calf injury.

Striker Lucas Perez will also sit out Sunday’s match against third-placed Manchester City with a thigh problem.

Wenger hinted Arsenal will be active in the next transfer window.

“We have a strong foundation but the team needs to be strengthened,” he added. The Herald

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