Alexis Sanchez is holding out on signing a new deal with the Gunners, and sources close to the striker say he wants a deal that will make him the best paid player in the country at around an eye watering £400,000-a-week.
Sanchez, 28, being chased by mega rich clubs in China, is on £130,000-a-week, with Arsenal now ready to sell him at the end of this season, as long as he goes abroad and not to one of their Premier League rivals.
With Arsenal’s season crumbling fast, the Chilean, who has hit 18 goals this season, has openly shown his dissatisfaction on the pitch and also been involved in a training ground row with teammates last month.
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Wenger, though, believes a massive pay rise for one player would wreck dressing room morale.
He said: “Always. But we must accept modern life has changed. We always had a wages schedule that was respected but players earn so much money now that the cases have become much more individual than global.
“Some people tell me ‘just give him what he wants’. But then you cannot respect any wage structure any more – and you put the club in trouble.
“You have to make the decision in an objective way. The club always has to be the priority.
“I understand that top players are a big priority but at the end of the day even for important players you can only pay as much as you can afford.”
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Clubs around the world are determined to snap up Alexis Sanchez
Sanchez, who was among a whole team who underperformed in the shocking 3-0 defeat at Crystal Palace on Monday night, is also attracting offers from China, with former City boss Manuel Pellegrini, now in charge at Hebei China Fortune, ready to hand his countryman a £500,000 a week deal.
But Wenger, who takes his side to Middlesbrough on Easter Monday desperately needing a result to ease the pressure on himself, said: “China certainly contributes to the imagination of the players now.
Sanchez (right) is currently on £130,000 a week at Arsenal
Arsenal would only agree to sell Sanchez to a non-Premier League club
“Every club and every player has to make decisions. Where are your priorities, where do you want to play?
“The first priority for top players is to play to their best, with the best players and in the best league. So it is not just going to China because you can earn big money. You make big money in England as well.
“So the best combination of playing at the top and earning big money is in England at the moment. China for me is not a debate.”
Wenger hopes to have goalkeeper Petr Cech and centre back Laurent Koscielny back after injury at the Riverside Stadium on Monday.