Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Jack Wilshere staying at Arsenal - Wenger
LONDON -- Arsene Wenger is intent on keeping both Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Jack Wilshere at the club this season, even if it means losing both on a free transfer next summer.
Wenger ruled out selling Oxlade-Chamberlain amid reported interest from Chelsea, and predicted that he is about to develop into one of England's biggest stars.
"I rate him highly and he's one of the players who is on his way up. In the last year, he has made huge progress and personally I want him to stay here for a long time," Wenger told a news conference on Wednesday. "I'm convinced he will be the English player that everybody will look at in the next two years."
Wilshere played his first game since April with Arsenal's under-23s on Monday as he steps up his recovery from an ankle fracture, and had also been linked with a permanent move away from the club this summer, but Wenger made it clear that the midfielder remains in his plans -- at least for another year.
"I plan for him to be here for the whole season. After, we will see at the end of the season," Wenger said.
Like Alexis Sanchez and Mesut Ozil, Wilshere and Oxlade-Chamberlain are entering the final year of their contract and have yet to agree new deals with the club.
With Wenger insisting on holding them to their current deals rather than cashing in, the club could potentially miss out on more than £100 million in transfer fees if all four walk out for free next summer, but the Arsenal boss said it is a sacrifice he is willing to make.
"Look, let's not be wrong," he said. "It's not an ideal situation on the financial side and it demands some sacrifice but, first of all, it doesn't mean the players who are in the final year of their contract will not extend their contract. You have still that possibility and we work on that as well.
Sanchez's future has been the topic of much speculation this transfer window amid interest from a number of clubs, and the Chile forward missed Arsenal's opening win over Leicester with an abdominal injury.
Wenger said Sanchez is "working very hard in training" but will probably miss Saturday's trip to Stoke as well before returning against Liverpool the following weekend.
Wenger admitted there has been no progress on Sanchez's contract talks but that the sporting benefit of keeping him at the club outweighs the financial profit of selling him.
"We have to make a choice between efficiency on the field and financial interest, and most of the time if you can find a good compromise, it's better," he said. "But in this case, I think I prioritise the fact that he will be useful on the sporting side."
And unlike Liverpool's situation with Philippe Coutinho -- who has handed in a transfer request aiming for a move to Barcelona -- and Chelsea's standoff with striker Diego Costa, Wenger said he is happy that none of his players have demanded to be sold.
"Yes, I'm very happy about that, because I believe it's important that you have a serene atmosphere inside, and clarity as well about your commitment. It's important that the players are not half in and half out, but completely in," Wenger said.
"I have regular conversations with the players where I tell them where I stand and they know what I want and where I stand on that front."
Arsenal head to Stoke looking to put in a better defensive display than in their 4-3 win over Leicester, and Wenger will be helped by having centre-backs Per Mertesacker and Shkodran Mustafi available for that game.
Holding midfielder Francis Coquelin will also be in the squad after playing for the U23s on Monday with Wilshere, who is not expected to play.
Arsenal are still trying to offload a number of players, including striker Lucas Perez and defensive trio Kieran Gibbs, Mathieu Debuchy and Carl Jenkinson, but Wenger said there was no update on potential outgoings.
He also added that he would back a proposal for Premier League clubs to shorten the transfer window so it ends before the start of the season.
"For the regularity of the season, it's better because you can have a player who you could play against three times if the transfer window is not closed when you start the season. That doesn't look normal," he said.
"Also, for the psychological comfort and focus of the manager. It's difficult to start the season with a team and have some players in the squad who are not completely on board. You can understand that -- once everyone's on the train, they stay on the train."
Mattias is ESPN FC's Arsenal correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @MattiasKaren.