Wenger: Arsenal’s interests come first, not national teams

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Arsene Wenger has suggested that January departures for Olivier Giroud and Theo Walcott are off the table because he wants to keep his squad together, and won’t be dictated to by national team coaches.

Earlier this week France’s assistant manager Guy Stephan appeared to put pressure on Olivier Giroud to ‘find a solution’ to his lack of playing time this season. In effect, he wanted the striker to seek a move so he could play more often – something which would be to the benefit of France.

However, it’s not something that the Arsenal manager appears to be considering, saying he has to think first about what’s best for the Gunners.

“I cannot consider too much the interest of the national team,” he said. “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.

“Overall I try to give them competition, which is what they have had until now. But these are discussions I have had with the players. It’s part of it.”

Giroud has yet to start a Premier League game this season, while Walcott has barely played 60 minutes – his appearances restricted to the Europa League and Carabao Cup.

Earlier Wenger made public his desire to hang onto the former England international, but with interest from other clubs and his apparent unsuitability to the current formation it could be a good time to cash in.

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