Alexis Sanchez is set to return for Arsenal to face Liverpool in the Premier League at Anfield on Sunday, says manager Arsene Wenger.
The Chile forward has recovered from an abdominal strain, and could feature in his first match of the season as Wenger’s side bid to recover from their 1-0 defeat at Stoke last weekend following a 4-3 victory over Leicester a fortnight ago.
When asked if the Chile forward will start against Liverpool, Wenger said: “We have to make that decision.
“Overall, he looks in a good shape.
“He is working hard, is focused and is giving everything. It’s always difficult to stop him.
“He looks ready, he’s not played for a long time. I have to decide what to do with him, but he’s ready to play.
“I don’t think he is too much disturbed by all the noises. Players at that level are used to it.”
Sanchez, 28, is currently in the final year of his contract.
He has been linked with a move to Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain in the transfer window, but Arsenal are not keen to sell despite the player having yet to commit his future to the club.
“I want Alexis to stay at the club and be one of the big players of this future. We want to build the team around him,” said Wenger, who also has central defender Laurent Koscielny available after suspension.
“Personally, I want him to commit to the club and for him to be one of the carriers of our team.
“He’s not too disturbed by the noises. Players of his level are used to it now. I’m sure he’s not too bothered by that. He’s always focused, very happy.
“Just because he goes into the last year of his contract doesn’t mean we don’t have the chance to extend it.”
Wenger, who signed his own two-year renewal with Arsenal in May, has several players who, like Sanchez, have contracts that expire in 2018.
One of those is England midfielder Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain – linked to Chelsea – but Wenger is adamant the 24-year-old remains a key member of his squad moving forward.
Asked whether reports of a meeting with Oxlade-Chamberlain to thrash out his future were organised for later in the day, Wenger replied: “We all have our agendas that are quite busy but we do not publish them. Some people look better informed than I am!
“My secretary has my agenda, I will check what I have to do today.
“I want him to stay and be one of the big players of the future of this club. He is one of the players this team has to be built around in the future.
“Personally I want him to commit to the club and to be one of the carriers of the values of our team.”