Arsene Wenger says Arsenal want players at the club who focus on “values, not millions” but insists Alexis Sanchez was committed throughout his time in north London.
Sanchez completed his move to Manchester United on Monday in a swap deal that saw Henrikh Mkhitaryan join the Gunners.
Some reports claim the Chile star will earn as much as £350,000 a week at Old Trafford and Wenger last week suggested Arsenal had “no chance” of getting the player to sign a contract extension given the money on offer in the north west.
Wenger’s comments came despite the club being placed sixth in the latest Deloitte table showing the richest clubs in the world in terms of revenue in 2016-17.
The 68-year-old maintains Arsenal are still restricted in their spending due to the costs of the Emirates Stadium but says he will always favour bringing players through the youth system to ensure they have the right attitude to playing for the club.
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) January 22, 2018
“You can’t forget we have financial restrictions from the banks because of the stadium. We have to respect the financial plan,” he told a news conference.
“We worked very hard to become richer and after that we have to spend the money in the most intelligent way we can in a transfer market that has become a bit out of control.
“Despite the financial superpowers we have now in our league and in Europe, I believe it’s important that we keep the basis of our focus on getting people from inside the club.
“The way football is going is maybe not necessarily only to buy players for a huge amount of money, but to have players in the team who care about the club, who have a sense of belonging to the club.
“I’d rather encourage the club to push more on the quality of youth work rather than go into a way where it’s only about millions and not about values. We are the only team to play with four, five players who have come out of the club.”
Wenger concedes the sums on offer at United would have been hugely tempting for Sanchez but he maintains the former Barcelona man always showed a good attitude at Arsenal.
“When players get to a certain age and they want to go, you have to respect that,” he said.
“At the end of the day, we are a serious football club with responsibilities and you want to spend the money you can afford. You have to make decisions at some stage. If you cannot afford then you have to say no.
“I said here before: he’s 29 years old and it’s maybe his last contract. Of course, the financial aspect is important.
“You can combine both. He goes to a great club and gets a great contract. You can combine both aspects.
“Sanchez is a great guy and has always been committed. He is a guy who loves football. When he’s on the football pitch, he gives his all.”
— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) January 23, 2018
Wenger’s focus is now on ensuring Mkhitaryan can “express his incredible talent” for Arsenal following a mixed 18 months in the Premier League under Jose Mourinho.
“Overall, I believe we lose a world-class player and we gain a world-class player. How efficiently that works will be down to the performances of both players,” he added.
“Mkhitaryan has the qualities to integrate into our game. He has a good team attitude and I’m confident it will work. He can play in all kinds of positions so I think he’s very versatile and it should help us to be very efficient.
“It’s my challenge to get him to express his incredible talent.
“I would say he can bring quality of runs, quality of creativity, he can be very penetrating with his passing and his runs. He knows what it is to fight at the top level.”