English Premier League

Alexis Sanchez is phenomenal, says Mourinho as Manchester United step up transfer tussle with City for Arsenal star

Pep Guardiola stays tight-lipped on City’s interest as Arsene Wenger admits his star forward’s future is up in the air, with United throwing their hat into the ring

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 13 January, 2018, 11:41am
UPDATED : Saturday, 13 January, 2018, 10:15pm

Jose Mourinho has refused to rule out a January move for Alexis Sanchez, describing the Arsenal forward as a “phenomenal” player.

Manchester City were favourites to sign Sanchez, who is out of contract at the end of this season and has made clear he has no intention of staying at the Emirates Stadium, but Manchester United are reported to have joined the race for his signature.

“I don’t know if it’s ethical or correct to be speaking about players of other clubs,” said Mourinho, whose United squad has just returned from a warm-weather training camp in Dubai. “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 Alexis 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 Alexis 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 admitted on Friday that Sanchez’s future is up in the air.

Guardiola’s bid to buy the forward collapsed at the end of the summer transfer window and City are apparently unwilling to meet Arsenal’s reported £35 million (US$48 million asking price.

Mourinho’s United are understood to have thrown their hat into the ring, bidding around £25 million to trump City’s £20 million offer as they seek to bolster their attacking options and deny their bitter rivals.

When asked at a press conference if United were interested in signing the 29-year-old Chilean international, Wenger said “nothing is really concrete at the moment”.

Questioned as to whether there was any truth in the rumour, the Arsenal manager was coy.

“You conclude that,” he said. “You could say that at the moment … it’s not that I don’t want to inform you, I don’t want to give you wrong information and at the moment I must say nothing is decided one way or the other.”

Guardiola stayed tight-lipped about City’s interest, ahead the of the Premier League leaders’ trip to Anfield on Sunday.

“I understand completely why you ask this question [about Sanchez], it’s your job,” said Guardiola. “But you know my answer. I am focused on Liverpool.”

Wenger said Sanchez would only be allowed to leave if they could get a new signing over the line – the club have been linked with young Bordeaux forward Malcom.

“Of course I want a quick resolution,” he said.

“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.”