Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger says his decision to name Alexis Sanchez on the bench against Chelsea on Wednesday had nothing to do with transfer speculation, and reiterated his desire for the forward to stay at the club.
The Chilean, out of contract in June, came on in the second half of the 0-0 Carabao Cup semi-final first-leg draw.
Sanchez has been linked with a January move to Manchester City.
“I want him to stay longer. I have no problem if he signs with us now or in June. You have to accept as well when you play so many games, and Sanchez plays every game, that sometimes a breather in the middle of the season helps them a little bit,” Wenger said.
Despite the uncertainty surrounding Sanchez’s future, Wenger does not believe the Chile international’s commitment can be questioned.
“People don’t know Alexis Sanchez – this is a guy completely focused on playing football,” added Wenger.
“Did you see how he came on today? How he warmed up? Like a player who wants to play football.
“He can make a difference between what’s going on outside and what’s going on on the football pitch.
“He doesn’t need to tell me he speaks to anybody else. He doesn’t need to alert the club. He can do it on his own.
“We live with facts, not with psychological theories. When you come on to the pitch you play football and give 100%. That’s what he does.”