Arsene Wenger maintains Arsenal are not about to offer 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 Chelsea 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.”
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.
Sagna recently voiced his concerns in a French newspaper interview 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 moves to Manchester City.
The 29-year-old, signed from Auxerre in 2008, also revealed, despite heading towards the final season of his current deal in 2013, discussions had not yet started on an extension.
While Wenger is not overly concerned about the situation.
“Bacary didn't want to be negative, but you all know what you can do with any statement,” said the Arsenal boss.
“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.”
Wenger added: “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.“
Arsenal host Southampton on Saturday, and will have goalkeeper Goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny fit again following a rib injury.
Winger Theo Walcott will be assessed after missing England's game against Ukraine with a virus, while midfielder Abou Diaby is rated as 50/50 after picking up a minor knee problem while on international duty with France and may be rested ahead of next week's start of the Champions League campaign in Montpellier.
Midfielder Jack Wilshere also continues his rehabilitation from an ankle problem which sidelined him all last season.
“Jack is making quick progress now,” Wenger said, “he will join in with full training soon.”Reuse content