Henrikh Mkhitaryan PHOTO:AFP
Manchester United’s bid to sign Alexis Sanchez from Arsenal hinges on Henrikh Mkhitaryan moving the other way, the Armenian player’s agent said Tuesday as Antonio Conte distanced Chelsea from a potential deal.
Chile international Sanchez, who appears to have played his last game for Arsenal, had been strongly linked with a move to either Manchester United or Manchester City and Chelsea boss Antonio Conte has also spoken of his admiration for the player.
The player, who is out of contract this summer, had appeared certain to sign for Pep Guardiola’s team after a transfer fell through in August but it is understood City have pulled out of the race for the 29-year-old due to the costs involved.
There has been speculation Mkhitaryan will be offered as a makeweight from United to land Sanchez, and Mourinho left the playmaker out of the squad to face Stoke on Monday due to “doubts about his future”.
Mkhitaryan’s agent Mino Raiola told Britain’s Times newspaper that Sanchez’s transfer to United was reliant on his client joining Arsenal as part of the deal.
“Manchester United are not going to sign Sanchez unless Mkhi agrees to join Arsenal,” Raiola told the newspaper.
“Mkhi is going to do what is best for him. He has two-and-a-half years left on his contract so it’s his decision. Sanchez is part of the Mkhi deal, not the other way around.”
Conte last week described any potential cut-priced deal for the Chile striker as a great opportunity but he told reporters on Tuesday that he did not believe Chelsea were trying to sign the player.
– ‘Great’ signing –
Jose Mourinho, speaking after second-placed United had reduced Premier League table-toppers City’s lead to 12 points on Monday said it would be “great” if Sanchez arrived at Old Trafford though he remained non-committal.
“No news on Alexis Sanchez, he is an Arsenal player,” he said. “If he stays it’s great for Arsenal, if he comes to us, great for us, if he goes to another club, great for them.”
If the transfer goes ahead it would be the third blockbuster move of the January window involving Premier League clubs following Philippe Coutinho’s big-money switch from Liverpool to Barcelona and Virgil van Dijk’s arrival at Anfield from Southampton.
United have an impressive selection of forwards but Sanchez could expect to become a fixture in the first team alongside Romelu Lukaku, with doubts growing over the future of Zlatan Ibrahimovic following his recent return from a long-term injury.
Sanchez joined Arsenal from Barcelona in 2014 and in a stellar 2016/17 campaign scored 30 goals and provided 17 assists, though his form has since dipped.
His loss would be a major blow for Arsenal, who saw Robin van Persie swap the Emirates for Old Trafford in 2012.
Arsenal have been linked with a move for Bordeaux forward Malcom but Arsene Wenger, who said the club would need a replacement if Sanchez were to leave, refused to confirm his interest in the Brazilian.
The British press widely reported on Tuesday that Arsenal were in talks to sign Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang from Borussia Dortmund.
Aubameyang was dropped at the weekend after missing a team meeting — the third time he had been disciplined by the club after an unauthorised video shoot and a trip to Milan shortly before a Champions League game last season.