SYDNEY (AFP) – Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger finally confirmed last night he wants to lure the hottest property in world football to The Emirates.
Monaco’s teen sensation Kylian Mbappe has been the subject of at least two world record bids already this summer, from Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain.
The Gunners are also said to have made two offers, $115 million last month and then a stunning world record $160m last week.
The club have always maintained a tight-lipped diplomacy over their transfer dealings but that ended last night as Wenger, in Australia for a pre-season tour, threw his hat into the ring for the superstar winger.
“He’s a player who when he gets up in the morning can choose where he wants to go. Not many players have that kind of luck,” the veteran Frenchman said.
“He is just 18 years of age and all of Europe has the red carpet out for him.
“Nobody can say he is not interested in a player of that kind because he has such immense quality at 18 that all the clubs are open and interested in him.”
Wenger is also said to be keen on Mbappe’s Monaco teammate Thomas Lemar as a supporting attacker to Alexandre Lacazette, whose move from Lyon to the Gunners was sealed last week for a club-record fee that could rise to $68m.
But the Arsenal manager would not be drawn on the chances of landing Lemar.
“That’s all speculation at the moment, there is nothing really concrete about any signing. He’s a player that we have looked at, but the rest is only speculation,” he said.
Wenger did say he was hoping to entice more players to the Emirates before the new season starts.
“I’m open to get some more signings, but it’s not easy to find the players to strengthen our squad because we have top quality players,” he said.
“There’s two ways to improve — analyse what we did well last year and what we did not do well, and improve on that. And the second way is to bring some new players in.
“But I believe at the moment, because we are on pre-season, that it is very important for us to analyse what happened last year and where we can improve. At the moment I focus more on that.”
Wenger also insisted unsettled striker Alexis Sanchez was going nowhere, saying he expected him to honour his contract and potentially sign an extension.
The Chilean, 28, has a year left on his Gunners deal but is yet to sign a new contract and for some time has been linked with Bayern Munich and Manchester City.
Reports in Britain have said the Gunners could rake in up to $103 million but Wenger rejected this
“The players have contracts and we expect them to respect their contracts. That’s what we want,” he said in Sydney, where the London club is on a pre-season tour.
Asked if he still wanted to keep Sanchez, Wenger replied: “Yes, that is what I said at the end of the season. That’s what we will do.
“He adds great value to the squad and I think as well he is a great lover of the club.”
Sanchez, who at times last season cut a disgruntled figure as Arsenal struggled with form and uncertainty over Wenger’s future, is not in Australia as he rests after last month’s Confederation’s Cup.
But Wenger said reports that the Chilean ace had told him that he wanted to leave the club were not true, replying with a curt “No”.
He added: “Nobody knows today if he will be in his final year of his contract next season.”
Arsenal play two pre-season friendlies in Sydney this week.