Arsene Wenger insists Arsenal are not about to offer Didier Drogba a route back to the Premier League.
Breaking ducks against Saints
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Drogba left Chelsea for Chinese side Shanghai Shenhua during the summer, but has since been linked with a number of English and European clubs. The 34-year-old Ivorian has reportedly been at the centre of a power struggle in Shanghai, with Arsenal, Liverpool and Real Madrid touted as possible destinations should he depart.
However, if Drogba agreed to cancel his contract it is highly unlikely FIFA would sanction a move to another club as a player must be a free agent when the transfer window closes to qualify for a free transfer before January. The only exception is when a club goes out of business. Last March, Bolton signed Gregg Wylde from Rangers but as he agreed to rip up his deal with the beleaguered Scottish club, FIFA blocked him from playing for the Trotters until the start of this season.
Wenger maintains the Gunners are not preparing to go back into the market for Drogba, who gave their defence so much trouble during his eight years at Stamford Bridge.
"At the moment no. In my opinion he is not free. He has just left England. I don't know about the situation because he came out with a completely different statement.
"You hear he might go to Real Madrid - but then he says 'I am staying in China'. Is it just because he wants to be paid off? I don't know," Wenger said.
Wenger, meanwhile, remains hopeful Bacary Sagna will extend his stay at Arsenal. The France defender is currently close to a return from a broken leg suffered at the end of last season.
He recently voiced his concerns in a French newspaper following the sales of captain Robin van Persie and midfielder Alex Song, as well as the desire to secure trophies like former team-mates Gael Clichy and Samir Nasri have done since joining Manchester City.
The 29-year-old revealed, despite heading towards the final season of his current deal in 2013, discussions had not yet started on an extension. But Wenger is not concerned about the situation.
"Bacary didn't want to be negative, but you all know what you can do with any statement," Wenger said. "It is important to understand what he wanted to stay. What he wanted to say was not exactly the spirit of the whole thing, but you have the freedom to say what you want in life.
"It is also important you understand what people feel about the club and their job. It is always important to have good communication with them. With Sagna we want to extend his contract. He is 29, so his contract finishes when he is 31. So of course we can't give him five years.
"We lost players until now, but the situation is changing and will be in favour of Arsenal much more because of financial fair play. We will be in a very strong position."