You can’t buy loyalty. That was the underlying message Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger seemed to convey when he spoke for the media for the first time following Alexis Sanchez’s departure.
The Chilean has been called a mercenary by former defender Martin Keown who thinks he only went to their Premier League rivals, Manchester United for the money.
Wenger offered a defence of the recently departed 29-year-old but said he would continue to focus on developing talent within
The Frenchman spoke of the importance of having players within the first time squad that have a genuine affinity for the club:
"You can't forget we have financial restrictions from the banks because of the stadium. We have to respect the financial plan."
"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’s remarks about loyalty and finding players who care about the club could be interpreted as a slight on Sanchez, but the Frenchman defended his decision to leave and had no problem with the Chilean’s motives to move:
"When players get to a certain age and they want to go, you have to respect that"
"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."
<blockquote class="twitter-video" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">What's the boss' initial reaction to <a href="https://twitter.com/HenrikhMkh?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@HenrikhMkh</a>'s arrival?<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/AFCvCFC?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#AFCvCFC</a> <a href="https://t.co/4p3lTioOzB">pic.twitter.com/4p3lTioOzB</a></p>— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) <a href="https://twitter.com/Arsenal/status/955727185939120128?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">January 23, 2018</a></blockquote>
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