Arsenal contract rebel Alexis Sanchez has been named in Chile's squad for forthcoming 2018 World Cup qualifying ties against Paraguay and Bolivia despite the fact that he is currently struggling with an injury and has not played a single minute of football since the Confederations Cup in early July.
Sanchez missed the Gunners' Premier League curtain-raiser against Leicester City last week due to abdominal strain sustained before the Community Shield and looks set to remain sidelined for Saturday's (19 August) meeting with Stoke City. His return from an extended break in the aftermath of La Roja's run to the final in Russia was initially delayed by a bout of illness.
Arsene Wenger insisted this week that the 28-year-old's recovery from that latest issue was going well and expressed hope that he would be available to face Liverpool on 27 August, a match that takes place four days before Chile welcome Paraguay to Santiago and nine prior to their trip to La Paz.
However, the Arsenal boss also reiterated the need for caution and said it was important not to risk any setback.
"The information we have is that he is available," said Chile coach Juan Antonio Pizzi. "He will not have problems getting to the qualifying date."
Chile and Arsenal have previously clashed over Sanchez's fitness. After the player suffered a hamstring scare during an international training session last November, Wenger stressed that the club needed to gain access to his MRI scan results to make absolutely sure that there was no "suicidal decision" made that could keep him sidelined for a further two or three months.
Sanchez has a little over 10 months left to run on his current deal at the Emirates Stadium and it remains to be seen if chief suitors Manchester City will launch a big-money offer to reunite him with former Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola before the transfer window closes on 31 August.
Addressing the long-running saga again in his pre-Stoke press conference held on Wednesday, Wenger insisted that Arsenal were still intent on keeping their attacking talisman despite the significant risk that they could lose him for nothing next summer.
"That's a consequence of what I said yes, unfortunately," he told reporters. "We have to make a choice of efficiency on the field and financial interest. Most of the time if you can find a good consequence it's better, but in this case I prioritise the fact he will be useful on the sporting side."
Asked if there had been any update on negotiations regarding a contract extension for Sanchez, the Frenchman said: "At the moment no, we have not progressed on that front. He goes into the final year of his contract and prepares for the season."