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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 24 June 2018

Arsene Wenger concedes Alexis Sanchez transfer to Manchester United 'likely to happen'

Arsenal manager says any deal that sees the Chilean move to Old Trafford will see Henrikh Mkhitaryan move the other way in part exchange

Arsene Wenger has conceded a deal taking Alexis Sanchez to Manchester United 'is likely to happen'. Catherine Ivill / Getty Images
Arsene Wenger has conceded a deal taking Alexis Sanchez to Manchester United 'is likely to happen'. Catherine Ivill / Getty Images

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has confirmed that Alexis Sanchez is likely to join Manchester United in the coming days with Henrikh Mkhitaryan moving to Arsenal as part of the exchange.

Negotiations are ongoing with both clubs presumably eager to push through the respective deals in time for their weekend Premier League fixtures. Arsenal face Crystal Palace at the Emirates Stadium while Manchester United are away to Burnley.

Asked at his weekly news conference if Sanchez's move to Old Trafford was close, Wenger replied: "I've worked on transfers for 30 years, so it is likely to happen."

Wenger then almost seemed to immediately backtrack on that statement, saying: "But at any moment, at any minute, things can break down. That's how the transfer market is. As long as it's not over the line, you have to accept that it can as well not happen. These kind of things are never guaranteed."

With Sanchez entering the final months of his contract however, the Chilean forward's exit from the Emirates looks like a question of when, not if, it will happen, with Arsenal reasoning it is better to accept United's offer - widely reported to be £25 million (Dh127m) plus Mkhitaryan - rather than lose him for nothing in the summer.

Should a deal be concluded for Sanchez it will bring to an end one of the most protracted transfer sagas of recent times.

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Long-time admirers Manchester City withdrew their interest in Sanchez last week after United entered the frame for his signature. Pep Guardiola's side failed in their attempt to bring the former Barcelona player to the Etihad Stadium in last summer after agreeing personal terms with the player as well as meeting Arsenal's £60m asking price only to see the deal fall through at the 11th hour after Arsenal failed to land Monaco's Thomas Lemar as a replacement.

Mkhitaryan, 28, only moved to United in 2016 but has struggled to win over Jose Mourinho and has been limited to three league starts since October.

The Armenia international shone during his spell with former club Borussia Dortmund, where he also caught the eye of Wenger when his Arsenal side faced the Bundesliga outfit in the Uefa Champions League.

"If it's a possibility, it's because I like the player," Wenger said after confirming Mkhitaryan would move the other way in exchange for Sanchez.

"We played many times against him when he was at Dortmund. He certainly appreciated the quality of our game and the way we play football. That's why certainly he loves the club as well.

"Look, this would be an exchange of players, and I think one would replace the other. Are we still on the transfer market after that? Yes."