Jamie Jackson at Turf Moor on 20 January 2018
Manchester United have finally agreed to sign Alexis Sánchez from Arsenal with Henrikh Mkhitaryan to move in the other direction in what is understood to be a straight swap deal. This means that as there would not be any money exchanged between the clubs, United valued Mkhitaryan at around £35m, the fee Arsenal were demanding for Sánchez.
Sánchez, who was out of contract at Arsenal this summer, is expected to sign terms at United that will make him their highest-paid player, with speculation he could earn as much as £14m-a-year after tax or £500,000-per-week.
Despite the high salary, the 29-year-old’s signature is a coup for José Mourinho as the manager continues to try and revitalise United. After finishing sixth last season Saturday’s 1-0 win at Burnley kept United in second position after 24 matches. With Manchester City’s 3-1 defeat of Newcastle United leaving United 12 points behind Mourinho will hope Sánchez can help bridge the gap to their rivals.
Following Arsenal’s 4-1 defeat of Crystal Palace, Arsène Wenger confirmed the Arsenal player is “up north” where he is expected to undergo a medical. “I didn’t take him because there is question of him moving to Manchester United and you cannot drive up north and as well play football,” he said. “That’s difficult so that’s why I decided to leave him out.”
Mourinho said he not spoken to Sánchez but will welcome adding a world-class talent to a forward line that again lacked ruthlessness against a well-drilled Burnley.
“In this moment there is no competition for places, we have four attacking players for three positions [behind Romelu Lukaku],” he said of Martial, Jesse Lingard, Marcus Rashford and Juan Mata. “Three are starting, one is on the bench, Zlatan [Ibrahimovic] was not available for [nearly all] the season. We look to the attacking areas and need that extra competitive internal competition and more solutions for us.”
Mkhitaryan was in London on Saturday night with his agent Mino Raiola before his medical with Arsenal.