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Friday 20 July 2018

Red alert: Sanchez wages could cause trouble

United warned that Alexis salary may lead to discontent in dressing room

Henrik Mkhitaryan is heading to the Emirates as Alexis Sanchez (right) will be linking up with Jose Mourinho at Old Trafford. Photo: AFP/Getty Images
Henrik Mkhitaryan is heading to the Emirates as Alexis Sanchez (right) will be linking up with Jose Mourinho at Old Trafford. Photo: AFP/Getty Images

Steve McClaren has warned Alexis Sanchez's wages could create dressing-room disharmony at Manchester United.

Sanchez is expected to complete his move to Old Trafford from Arsenal today, with Henrikh Mkhitaryan moving in the opposite direction.

The 29-year-old Chile forward is set to become United's best-paid player, with some reports putting his salary at £400,000 per week.

"That is the danger in the modern game and the problem I find in clubs," said McClaren, the former England manager and Sir Alex Ferguson's assistant when United won then treble in 1999.

"Wage parity is very important to players. Yes, they find out - at all levels - and if someone is paid a lot higher than others that can cause a problem.

"In the short term I don't see a problem, but in the long term for Manchester United they will have to solve that problem.

"If he (Sanchez) is on the wages that is being bandied about, then other players will know that when their contracts come up or they are in demand from other clubs.

Renegotiation

"The others will be looking at renegotiation next season or the season after and getting to that (wage) level if they think they are at that level."

But McClaren believes United have struck a major blow by landing Sanchez, who has scored 80 goals in 166 appearances at Arsenal.

"Any manager worth his salt would love to have Sanchez in their team," McClaren said.

"Sanchez coming in for the second half of the season at Manchester United is a huge boost to them.

"He has got that experience and toughness, he wins games and he is a leader. It will lift the level of the whole club."

It is understood that both Sanchez and Mkhitaryan were undergoing medicals yesterday, with the swap deal likely to be formally announced on today.

Yesterday, Sanchez shared an Instagram Story with his followers on the social media platform, apparently of him walking across an air strip towards a jet.

United are yet to concede a goal in 2018 and have gone 504 minutes since last conceding when Burnley midfielder Steven Defour's free-kick beat David de Gea on St Stephen's Day.

So while all the talk surrounding United has been about the expected arrival of Sanchez, an attacker, it is their diligent work at the other end that is keeping them at the head of the pack chasing leaders Manchester City.

Along with Chelsea, United have the stingiest defence in the division and Smalling credited Mourinho's work in forming that solid base following the 1-0 win over the Clarets.

"I think we're well drilled," he said.

"Even last year I don't think we conceded many goals. It's good that as a team we can shut up shop and not give the other team too many chances, knowing that more often than not we're going to go up the other end and score because certain teams can only keep us out for so long."

Smalling has started the last two games at the heart of the defence with Phil Jones in a centre-back partnership which has not always been available to United's managers due to injuries to both men.

However, the two know each other well - Smalling having joined United in 2010 and Jones moving a year later.

"It's comfortable; it's great playing alongside him," Smalling added.

"While all the boys are running hard for us at the front, if we can stop those goals it's brilliant."

Mourinho's side temporarily reduced City's lead at the top to nine points before Pep Guardiola's men re-established a 12-point cushion by beating Newcastle later on on Saturday.

Smalling is retaining hope City can still be caught and knows United have to amp up the pressure if they are playing before their rivals as they did on Saturday.

"We've all been there where leads have dwindled and teams have been caught, but we can only focus on ourselves," he added.

"There is still a big points gap and we just need to make sure we win our games because if we don't then there's no point even talking about it."

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