Arsenal will not sell striker Olivier Giroud, midfielder Jack Wilshere and winger Theo Walcott in the January transfer window despite their lack of playing time at the Premier League club, manager Arsene Wenger has said.
The trio have started a majority of the club’s Europa League and League Cup games this season but are yet to start a league match, with Giroud making 12 substitute appearances while Wilshere has been limited to four and Walcott to three.
Their lack of top-flight action could cost them a spot in their respective nations’ 2018 World Cup squads but Wenger said the trio will not move away from the Emirates.
“They have to make their decisions; I have to make mine,” Wenger told reporters on Wednesday.
“I cannot consider too much the interest of the national team. I want to keep the squad. We do not want to become weaker.
“I have to consider the interest of the player but dominant of that will be the interests of the club. If you can combine the two it is even better but, first, what is important is for the club.”
England international Walcott has been at Arsenal for 11 years but is no longer a regular starter but Wenger has backed the 28-year-old to reclaim his spot.
“He has it in him (to become a first-team regular),” Wenger added. “Of course he is frustrated but he is focused. He doesn’t give up at all and is more determined than ever.”
Arsenal have numerous players whose contracts expire in the next two years, including Alexis Sanchez, Aaron Ramsey, Mesut Ozil and Petr Cech.
“When you pick a team you do not necessarily look how long a contract is,” Wenger said. “The shorter the contract is, the more hungry the players are usually. The hunger index drops with the length of the contract.”
Arsenal have already progressed to the Europa League knockout stages and host Belarus’ BATE Borisov in their final group game later on Thursday.
Key Arsenal trio will not be sold in January, says Wenger