Manchester City are prepared to walk away from a deal to sign Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez. The Premier League leaders feel the overall price for signing the Chile forward this month – transfer fee, agent costs and wage demands – is currently too high and must come down. City are not concerned if this stance opens up a route for another club, even arch-rivals Manchester United, to step in. Sanchez has long been a target for City and they offered £60mn for the 29-year-old, without success, last summer.
They would now hope to do a deal for a fee of around £20mn but are understood to have been quoted £35mn.
City have been convinced of Sanchez’s desire to work with his former Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola again for some time but they were prepared to wait until his contract expires in June. A knee injury suffered by Gabriel Jesus on New Year’s Eve had the potential to change thinking and bring forward a potential deal, but the Brazilian’s problem is not as bad as feared. With assessments suggesting Jesus could be back in training within three weeks, City have no urgent need to bring in another forward this month.
City understand Sanchez is keen to leave the Emirates Stadium in the current transfer window but they will not be pressured into overpaying by the player’s representatives, Arsenal or by the interest of any other club.
United were keen to enter the race for Sanchez but there has been no confirmation from Old Trafford. City boss Guardiola refused to discuss the matter at a press conference to preview his side’s clash with Liverpool tomorrow.
Guardiola said: “I understand completely this question, I understand you are doing your job, but you know my answer. I am not going [to speak about it]. I’m focused on Liverpool, believe me. Alexis – everyone knows how good he is, but I am not going to answer about Alexis or other players.”
United manager Mourinho, whose side host Stoke on Monday, refused to rule out a January move for Sanchez, describing the Arsenal forward as a “phenomenal” player.
But the United manager does not want to be drawn on his chances of beating Manchester City to a deal, saying it is not “ethical” to talk about another club’s player in such a way. Mourinho, whose squad has just returned from a warm-weather training camp in Dubai, said: “I don’t know if it’s ethical or correct to be speaking about players of other clubs. If somebody speaks of one of my players to tell we are interested, I wouldn’t be very happy.
“Sanchez is an Arsenal player. Probably this weekend he is going to defend Arsenal colours so I don’t think it’s correct to say things about Sanchez. At the general level, what I can say is myself and the Manchester United board, and the owners, we don’t believe a lot in the January market. “But in relation to Sanchez, I don’t say a word. The only word I can say is he is a phenomenal player. Apart from that, he is an Arsenal player and I feel I shouldn’t say much more than this.”
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, meanwhile, has stressed that Sanchez will only be allowed to leave the north London club this month if a replacement is found. The Gunners, who maintain they have not yet received an approach for Sanchez, have been linked with Bordeaux’s Brazilian forward Malcom. “Of course I want a quick resolution,” said Wenger. “Is he (Sanchez) replaceable in the way that we find exactly the same player? Certainly not, but there’s always a way to find a different balance.
“Alexis is an exceptional football player, he’s a world-class player and if that happens (and he leaves) we have to find a different balance in the team. I have had many conversations about him, but I’ve never questioned his professional attitude when he’s on the football pitch.”
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