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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 12 December 2018

Mourinho thrilled after Arsenal's Sanchez signs for Manchester United

Wenger, too, puts out statement sounding pleased after Arsenal confirm swap deal that sees Henrikh Mkhitaryan arrive at Emirates Stadium in London

Alexis Sanchez is close to joining Manchester United in what is set to be a rare swap deal among two of England’s top teams. Alastair Grant / AP Photo
Alexis Sanchez is close to joining Manchester United in what is set to be a rare swap deal among two of England’s top teams. Alastair Grant / AP Photo

Alexis Sanchez has signed for Manchester United and Henrikh Mkhitaryan has gone in the opposite direction to join Arsenal, both clubs announced on Monday.

“I am thrilled to be joining the biggest club in the world,” Sanchez said on Monday. “I am very proud to be the first Chilean player ever to play for United’s first team, and I hope I can show our fans all around the world why the club wanted to bring me here.”

Sanchez, 29, also thanked Arsenal supporters. “I have spent three-and-a-half wonderful years at Arsenal and I bring with me very positive memories of that great club and its fans,” he said.

Reports suggest Sanchez will earn close to £500,000 (Dh2.5 million) per week at Old Trafford, including bonuses and image rights.

Sanchez had joined Arsenal in 2014 for £31.7m after three years at Barcelona.

“Alexis is one of the best attacking players in the world and he will complete our very young and talented group of attacking players,” United manager Jose Mourinho said.

“He will bring his ambition, drive and personality, qualities that make a Manchester United player and a player that makes the team stronger and the supporters proud of their club dimension and prestige.”

The swap deal sees Armenia international winger Mkhitaryan, also 29, head to the Emirates following a mixed 18 months at Old Trafford had been expected for several days.

“I would like to wish Henrikh all the success and happiness that I am sure he is going to get,” Mourinho said. “He is a player that we will not forget, especially for his contribution to our Europa League victory.”

Mkhitaryan joined United for around £30m in 2016 after three years at Borussia Dortmund.

Arsenal also published the news of the swap deal on their website.

“I’m very happy that we could finish this deal and I’m very happy to be here,” Mkhitaryan said. “It’s a dream come true because I’ve always dreamed of playing for Arsenal. Now that I’m here, I’ll do my best for this club to create history.”

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger added: “Henrikh is a very complete player. He creates chances, he defends well, he can absorb distances and he’s very committed as well.

“I must say he’s a player who has all the attributes.”

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Footage of Sanchez, 29, outside the Home Office building in Liverpool emerged online on Monday afternoon. The Chile forward would have travelled there to update his work permit with details of his new employer. Mkhitaryan visited the same office.

United moved for the forward earlier this month when it became clear he wanted to leave Arsenal during the current transfer window rather than wait until he came out of contract in the summer.

Prior to that he had been expected to join Manchester City, who had a deal worth up to £60m accepted for Sanchez last August but could not complete a deal on transfer deadline day.

City considered bidding again in January but pulled out last week due to the rising costs involved. The Premier League leaders did not want to pay a fee of more than £20m while United were not only willing to meet Arsenal's £35m asking price, but offer much higher wages.

The fee has since been cancelled out by United's willingness to trade Mkhitaryan, who was valued at the same price, in a straight-swap deal.

Sanchez has scored 80 goals in 166 appearances since joining Arsenal from Barcelona in 2014.

Mkhitaryan, 29, has played 63 times for United after arriving from Borussia Dortmund in 2016, scoring 13 goals, although he has recently struggled for game time under Jose Mourinho.

Speaking on Saturday, United manager Mourinho had said the deal was "so close" while Arsenal counterpart Arsene Wenger had claimed "in the next 48 hours it will be decided one way or the other".