Manchester United are newly confident of beating Manchester City to the signing of Alexis Sanchez, as Arsene Wenger admitted that the Chilean is “on standby” for a move that could happen within the “next 48 hours”, after dropping him for Arsenal’s 2-1 defeat at Bournemouth on Sunday.
Those close to deal even believe that United are now “considerable favourites”.
While City have not yet walked away from the deal, they have so far made it clear they will not meet the £35m asking price for the player, or pay high agent fees of up to £10m.
How Manchester United may line up with Alexis Sanchez
United are willing to do so, and pay Sanchez up to £400,000 a year, and have also played on this and the knowledge that the player is so desperate to move as soon as possible.
City by contrast are insisting on a patient and resilient stance to strike what they see as a fair deal for a 29-year-old, and are prepared to walk away.
It is understood that United have upped the pressure over the past 24 hours, as they also feel City won’t improve their deal. There is also a feeling by some at Old Trafford that Arsenal would prefer to sell to them.
Since Wenger is now so willing to let the player go – and it is understood Arsenal also have a replacement lined up in Bordeaux’s Malcolm – that indicates that there is still an element of prevarication with the player.
The Etihad hierarchy want to keep their current wage structure, that involves a slightly lower basic wage but higher bonuses. Sanchez’s camp, however, would want that higher basic wage quoted. Pep Guardiola refused to talk about the 29-year-old after his side’s 4-3 defeat at Liverpool, merely saying “he is an Arsenal player”.
Alexis Sanchez is ready to wave goodbye to Arsenal (Getty)
Wenger had already admitted that wouldn’t be for long, however, and confirmed that he left Sanchez out of Arsenal’s match-day squad for the trip to Bournemouth because he is so close to leaving.
“He’s always been committed until now but he could have gone yesterday and he could go in the next 48 hours,” the Arsenal boss said. “It was difficult for him because he was on standby. That’s why I decided not to do it. He did not refuse to play.”
Asked if Sanchez will be replaced if he leaves, Wenger said: “Yes. Look, if Sanchez goes we need to replace him.
“If players like Sanchez go we have of course to respond. Will he go or not, I don’t know, but at the moment it’s the transfer period.
“In this kind of period we try to use the players completely focused on being at the club.
“I don’t master the rhythm of that but it could happen today, tomorrow, or not at all.
“That’s why I didn’t want to travel with him, and then suddenly he could go.”