Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger insists Alexis Sanchez is happy at the club and loved by his team-mates despite his protracted transfer saga involving Manchester City.
The Chile international was linked with Pep Guardiola’s side throughout the transfer window and was reportedly the subject of at least two offers on deadline day.
It appeared that Arsenal would finally relent in their determination to keep the forward but a failure to sign Thomas Lemar from Monaco as a replacement is believed to have scuppered Sanchez’s move to the Etihad Stadium.
Sanchez was ineffective in the 4-0 Premier League thrashing by Liverpool on his first appearance of the season before the window closed, but he scored his first goal of 2017-18 in the win over Cologne in the Europa League this week after being restricted to a late substitute appearance in the 3-0 victory over Bournemouth last weekend.
Speaking ahead of the Gunners’ trip to Stamford Bridge to face Chelsea on Sunday, Wenger says the 28-year-old is “well-loved” at the club and has urged him to deliver a strong performance.
“We love Alexis,” he said. “You know he is a special character but we all love him. I think he is well loved and he’s accepted — and he’s happy here.”
Asked if Sanchez’s battling qualities would be key against Chelsea, Wenger replied: “Yes, but he played at Liverpool as well. We lose all together and win all together. It is not just about one – it’s about the team performance. That’s everyone who comes on or who starts is giving 100 per cent.
“I believe that, on the day [against Liverpool], everything went against us. We were not sharp physically. It was three days before the end of the transfer window and some had their heads in and out. It was special circumstances and you have to take that into consideration.
“We had a very positive end to last season and we played very well in games against the big teams, like Manchester City and Chelsea. In one game, it’s like that: the judgement is definite and permanent. But a lack of quality is not permanent. We can do something about that.”