Alexis Sanchez has travelled north to complete his transfer to Manchester United, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger says, while Jose Mourinho insisted the move is “so close.”
Sanchez was left out of Arsenal’s squad for Saturday’s 4-1 win over Crystal Palace, and Wenger said after the match he expects the deal to be completed in the next 48 hours. But he reiterated that it will only happen if Arsenal get Henrikh Mkhitaryan in return.
“I didn’t take him [for the Palace game] because there is a question of him moving to Manchester United. You cannot drive up north and as well play football,” Wenger told a news conference.
“I expect it to happen maybe, but I cannot announce it. Because in the next 48 hours it will be decided one way or the other… It happens only one way, if the other way happens as well. That’s why it takes longer as well because it is coordinated.”
He also said “Sanchez will only happen if Mkhitaryan comes here, that will be decided in the next 48 hours. It is a possibility.”
Mourinho insisted in his own postmatch news conference after the 1-0 win over Burnley: “It’s so close, so close, so close that if it doesn’t happen, it’s not going to happen.
“I’m positive, I know my people are doing everything, absolutely everything they can, the owners with the green light, Mr Woodward working hard, everybody is giving everything they can, and I think they will be successful.”
Meanwhile, Wenger said he would not comment on the ongoing talks about signing Pierre Emerick Aubameyang as a replacement for the Chilean, despite Borussia Dortmund saying publicly on Saturday that Arsenal have made their first approach.
“They are responsible for their own statements. I cannot stand up what they say but if we sign somebody we will announce it. I half announced today Sanchez against Mkhitaryan and we’re not close to anything [else],” he said.
Arsenal managed just fine without Sanchez on Saturday, steamrolling Palace with four goals in the opening 22 minutes to win 4-1.
“We played the kind of football we want to play and that we know we can play when everybody is focused and in good shape,” Wenger said.
But the Arsenal boss admitted that the distractions surrounding Sanchez’s transfer have been difficult.
“For the first time in January we are losing one of our big players. It’s the first time, so it’s a bit more destabilising,” he added.
“Especially the period of uncertainty was difficult. Once things are clear the team responds and focuses on the job.
“That’s why for us, it’s not only losing a world-class player, this period of uncertainty creates a strange feeling in the dressing room. That’s why this transfer period is difficult in the middle of the season.”