Arsene Wenger insists Arsenal are not about to offer former Chelsea striker Didier Drogba an escape route back to England from China.
After helping the Blues win the Champions League final in a dramatic penalty shoot-out, the 34-year-old Ivory Coast striker left Stamford Bridge for Shanghai Shenhua on a lucrative free-transfer.
However, following an apparent power struggle behind the scenes at the Chinese Super League club, it had been reported Drogba was looking for a way out and could even be released from his deal, said to be worth in excess of £200,000 a week - with Liverpool and Real Madrid also possible destinations.
Those suggestions, however, have since been played down by the striker’s UK management company.
Arsenal previously tracked Drogba when he was at Le Mans and Guingamp.
Wenger, though, claims the Gunners were not preparing to go back into the market for the former Monaco frontman, who gave their defence so much trouble during his eight years at Chelsea.
“At the moment no. In my opinion he is not free. He has just left England,” said the Arsenal manager. “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.”