Arsenal forward Alexis Sanchez has reportedly been left out of the squad for Sunday's clash with Bournemouth, with Manchester United now said to be favourites to sign the Chilean in January.
As reported by David Hytner of the Guardian, Sanchez will not travel to the Vitality Stadium, with a mid-season exit from the Gunners now seemingly inevitable. And it appears it will be the Red Devils, not Manchester City, who pick up the player.
"Sanchez had looked certain to join City and enjoy a reunion with Pep Guardiola, the manager under whom he played for one season at Barcelona," Hytner wrote. "City almost got him for £60 million last summer and they have indicated a willingness to pay £20 million for him this month."
United are said to be willing to spend more on the 29-year-old, though, and according to Hytner, "the latest indication is that he has come to favour a move to United."
According to John Cross of the Daily Mirror, the decision to leave Sanchez out of the squad for Sunday's match is not based on football or fitness:
The forward is available for a knockdown fee in January, as he only has until the end of the season to run on his current contract at the Emirates Stadium.
United's interest has only materialised recently. Manager Jose Mourinho wouldn't be drawn on the speculation on Friday, but the coach admitted Sanchez is a "phenomenal player," and while he doesn't like to do business in January, there are exceptions.
Sanchez appears to be one, and for United, getting such a star on board mid-season would be a massive boost. As noted by Sachin Nakrani of the Guardian, a move to United would trigger memories of when the Gunners lost Robin van Persie to the Red Devils in 2012:
Since moving to the Emirates in 2014, Sanchez has established himself as one of the standout players in the Premier League.
He's abuzz with energy at the top of the pitch and consistently providing a threat to opposition defences. Sanchez is always alert, always seeking to be positive with the ball and has an unbending winning mentality.
Those are traits that you sense would appeal to a manager like Mourinho, who will be delighted if he can beat his local rivals to Sanchez. Miguel Delaney of The Independent believes the Chilean can have a huge impact at Old Trafford:
Given City have a 15-point lead atop the table, if Sanchez made the switch to the Etihad Stadium, he would almost be guaranteed a Premier League medal. However, United appear to be showing more determination to get him through the door in January than their sky-blue neighbours.
Losing Sanchez would be a huge blow for Arsenal, and he'll be a difficult man to replace at the Emirates Stadium. For United, if this deal were to go through, then weakening a longstanding rival and pinching him from under the nose of City would make it all the more sweeter.
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