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Arsenal not planning major January deals unless 'something special comes up' - director

Following a glittering three and a half seasons at Arsenal, it's clear Alexis Sanchez has yet to hit his stride with Manchester United.
Russell Wilson throws a Hail Mary across Trafalgar Square in London to former Arsenal goalkeeper David Seaman.

Arsenal's director of football has said the club are not planning to do any major business in the January transfer window "unless something special comes up."

Raul Sanllehi, who is now in charge of football operations at Arsenal after chief executive Ivan Gazidis left for AC Milan, said he doesn't view the January window as a good opportunity to find players unless there is a specific need.

"Unless something special comes up, in principle, the winter window is not one that we are really interested in," Sanllehi told Sky Sports in a joint interview with Vinai Venkatesham, the club's new managing director. "We are always looking at the market and opportunities that could appear.

"Normally, I am not a strong fan of the winter window. I think the winter window is for unexpected problems. That's not a rule, it is a principle.

"We have a full team of professionals looking into the market, analysing the possibilities and the players. The head coach embraces the philosophy we have and the way we want to play. If we see an opportunity, there is a healthy debate."

While Sanllehi and Venkatesham only recently took full charge of the club, that approach to the winter window is nothing new. Former manager Arsene Wenger rarely made major transfers in January -- although last season was an exception as Arsenal signed striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang for a club-record fee of £56 million and sold Alexis Sanchez to Manchester United in exchange for Henrikh Mkhitaryan.

Arsenal's new management structure means coach Unai Emery doesn't have the same power over transfers as Wenger did, and will have to rely on Sanllehi and his team for any reinforcements.

Sanllehi, who was previously director of football at Barcelona, has also been involved in the decision to rescind a new contract offer to midfielder Aaron Ramsey, even though he will be able to leave the club on a free transfer next summer. Sanllehi didn't want to discuss the reasons for that decision, though.

"I would like to avoid talking about individual cases," Sanllehi said when asked about Ramsey. "The one thing I can assure you is that any decision we take with any player is after a thorough debate, talking with all the professionals that we have put in place to make the best decisions.

"Nothing is decided overnight. All the decisions try to follow sporting and business rationale. In the end, our responsibility is [to] the club. We are here to take Arsenal to the next level and all the decisions are taken for that goal."

Meanwhile, former Arsenal midfielder Emmanuel Petit has backed Emery's men to finish in the top four and qualify for the Champions League -- but believes the title remains beyond them.

"For the podium, yes. For the title, no," Petit said. "Because even though they've got some great momentum with nine straight wins and they have improved defensively, I'm still convinced that they have neither the squad nor the character to get into the title race.

"They are quite limited in terms of options if key players get injured. They have also won a lot of games by the skin of their teeth."

Information from ESPN FC's Ian Holyman was used in this report

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