By Fabrizio Romano and Ed Aarons/The Guardian
Manchester United have made a bid to sign Alexis Sanchez from Arsenal as Jose Mourinho attempts to scupper Manchester City’s hopes of securing the Chile forward this month.
Sanchez has already agreed personal terms worth around £250,000 a week with Pep Guardiola’s side, with City having submitted a £20mn offer for the 29-year-old earlier this week. Arsenal have yet to respond to that but it is understood United have since entered the race with a bid in the region of £25mn.
Their proposal would also see Sanchez earn more than proposed by City, with Mourinho believed to be confident of winning the race despite the forward having played under Guardiola at Barcelona. United have offered Arsenal the opportunity to sign Henrikh Mkhitaryan, although a stumbling block to that deal could be the Armenian international’s wages, which are believed to be around £200,000 a week.
Sanchez’s representatives have already held talks with City having agreed to join them last summer, only for the deal to collapse when Arsenal failed to sign Thomas Lemar as a replacement on deadline day. He remains a target for Arsene Wenger, although the Frenchman is also keen on signing Malcom from Bordeaux and held preliminary talks with his agent this week. The Brazilian forward is understood to have another firm proposal to leave this month, although not from United or Tottenham, who have both been linked with the 20-year-old in recent weeks.
Bordeaux are demanding a fee of €50mn (£44.5mn) and would prefer to retain Malcom until the end of the season. The situation is complicated by his ownership status, with the French side reported to own only 50% of his economic rights and the remainder held by a number of agents.
Meanwhile, Wenger insists Sanchez remains committed to Arsenal even though the Gunners boss left out his unsettled star for the League Cup semi-final clash with Chelsea. Wenger opted to keep Sanchez on the bench until the last 25 minutes of Wednesday’s 0-0 first leg draw at Stamford Bridge.
It was a bold gamble by Wenger given the League Cup represents one of the few chances for Arsenal to win silverware in another frustrating season. Some Arsenal fans and pundits say Sanchez no longer gives 100% because his contract expires at the end of the season and he has so far refused to sign a new deal amid reports he is a divisive figure in the dressing room.
Wenger claimed he is still completely focused on the Arsenal cause despite a series of lacklustre performances. “The performance of Alexis Sanchez and the commitment does not depend on the duration of his contract, just depends on the fact when he’s on the football pitch he wants to play,” Wenger said.
“People don’t know Alexis Sanchez. This is a guy completely focused on playing football. Did you see how he came on today? How he warmed up? Like a player who wants to play football. He can make a difference between what’s going on outside and what’s going on on the football pitch.
“He doesn’t need to tell me he speaks to anybody else. He doesn’t need to alert the club. He can do it on his own. We live with facts, not with psychological theories. When you come on to the pitch you play football and give 100 per cent. That’s what he does.”
Remarkably, Wenger appears to believe Sanchez could still be persuaded to remain in north London. “I want him to stay for longer,” he added. “I have no problem if he signs with us now or in June.”
Meanwhile, United’s hopes of signing Ryan Sessegnon this month have been dealt a blow after Fulham’s head of football operations insisted the 17-year-old would not be leaving Craven Cottage in January.
Sessegnon, who finished as joint-top scorer at the European Under-19 Championship in June with three goals, has been tracked by United’s scouts for some time and has also attracted interest from Tottenham and Real Madrid.
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