Arsene Wenger says he won’t take Alexis Sanchez to Turkey next week when Arsenal play Galatasaray in their final Champions League group game.
With qualification assured the Gunners look likely to rotate their squad on Tuesday, despite the outside chance of topping the group. Several players are apparently on the cusp of the fabled ‘red zone’ with Sanchez identified by the boss as one of the prime candidates for a rest.
“I will have to give him a week break at some stage, yes,” Wenger told his weekly press conference.
“At the moment he looks like at some stage I have to give him a breather. I did it with many players before who were a little bit playing every game. I did it with Henry, with Van Persie and it always helped them to get through without being injured.
“You have to know when to rest him and when not but I think at the moment he plays at his peak on the edge. He will not go to Turkey.
“When you have a player who wants to run, you don’t stop him. He has enthusiastic, he loves to play.
“He has quality [and] in the morning he comes in and he is fresh. I don’t know what he does overnight!”
Judging by comments made by Alexis this week, he probably goes home and plays even more football. Speaking to The Times at a new health and well-being centre run by homeless charity Centrepoint – in part funded by £500,000 raised by Arsenal’s ‘Be a Gooner, Be a Giver’ campaign – the Chilean revealed how deep his love for the beautiful game runs.
“When I was younger, I played football on the streets, on a scrap of land, wherever I could. I had to apologise to the neighbours a few times for breaking windows, like all kids. Quite a few times, actually.
“We did not have a pitch or goalposts or anything like that. We would put down two rocks and that was the goal. There was just the ground and the ball.
“It did not bother me not to have proper boots or a good pitch. It was enough to be with my friends and to be playing. It is no different now. I do not mind where I play. I just love playing.
“When I go back on my holidays, I still play with my friends, wherever we can, just as we always did. My family is there, my friends are there. It is in my heart.”
You can read the rest of Rory Smith’s fantastic interview with Alexis here. Well worth it, even if it is behind a paywall.