Robert Pires strongly disagrees with his ‘friend’ Martin Keown’s claim that Alexis Sanchez is “the biggest mercenary in football”.
The former Arsenal winger is baffled that the Gunners have allowed their greatest asset to run down his contract and move for a relative pittance.
The Chilean will earn a reported £500,000 a week at Manchester United, having turned down an approach from Manchester City.
“He is not a mercenary,” said Pires in La Tercera. “Martin is a friend of mine but I don’t think one can say that. If United want Sanchez and are ready to spend a lot of money, that’s good for him.”
Pires insists that Arsenal never had a problem with Sanchez’s attitude and even claims that he ideally wanted to stay at the club.
“In my opinion, Alexis wanted to stay at Arsenal.
“I haven’t spoken to him, but from what I see and feel he was doing very well in London, very well at Arsenal. What Alexis wanted was for Arsenal to spend money on players. That is my opinion and maybe I’m wrong.
“I know that if I have a player like Sanchez, the first thing I do is to renew his contract. Then I would buy players to make a better team and try to win the league.
“What I don’t understand is that a team like Arsenal allows their best men to sign for a rival side.
“I’ve been with the first team every day and I see how Alexis is.
“I honestly can say that his behaviour is very good. He is very professional, he always wants to win, even in training.
“It’s a way of telling the team: ‘If you don’t want to be like this, then I leave.’ I think this is all Alexis wanted to prove.
“He’s impressive in training. He is there, working with a smile, and happy. He has a very positive attitude towards himself and towards Arsenal.”