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Saturday 21 April 2018

United primed to snatch Sanchez

Mkhitaryan set to be offered as makeweight in deal

Chelsea’s N’Golo Kante and Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez battle for the ball during their Carabao Cup semi-final first leg on Wednesday night at Stamford Bridge. Photo: Adam Davy/PA
Chelsea’s N’Golo Kante and Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez battle for the ball during their Carabao Cup semi-final first leg on Wednesday night at Stamford Bridge. Photo: Adam Davy/PA

Manchester United are reportedly ready to hijack any Manchester City move for Arsenal forward Alexis Sanchez.

Former Barcelona forward Sanchez, 29, is out of contract at the Emirates Stadium this summer and has been linked with a January switch to City.

However, it is believed that Jose Mourinho's United are plotting to snatch Chile international Sanchez from under City's noses.

Mourinho, who said he was unlikely to buy anyone in January, recently bemoaned his club's inability to invest up to "£700 million" in new players, claiming Man City have the advantage of unlimited spending power.

Makeweight

Beating Pep Guardiola to Sanchez's capture would therefore represent a major coup for the Old Trafford side.

It is also believed that Henrikh Mkhitaryan has been offered as a makeweight in any deal with Arsenal. Armenia international Mkhitaryan has struggled to hold down a first-team place at Old Trafford this season and Arsenal are reportedly keen on the former Borussia Dortmund forward.

Italian giants Inter Milan are also considering a loan move for Mkhitaryan.

Both United and Arsenal were contacted for comment with the Manchester club saying they were not aware of any bid for Sanchez while the Gunners declined to comment.

City remain tight-lipped over a potential approach for Sanchez in the current transfer window but midfielder Kevin De Bruyne has said that he believes the player would "add something" to the squad at the Etihad.

Meanwhile, Arsene Wenger has defended Alexis Sanchez and insisted the Arsenal forward's omission from the starting line-up at Chelsea was "nothing to do with the transfer market".

The former Barcelona forward is out of contract in the summer and is free to speak to foreign clubs over a pre-contract agreement, while he has been repeatedly linked with a switch to Manchester City.

Speaking after the Carabao Cup semi-final first leg stalemate at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday night, when Sanchez came off the substitutes' bench, Wenger said: "People don't know Alexis Sanchez. This is a guy completely focused on playing football.

"The performance of Alexis Sanchez and the commitment does not depend on the duration of his contract, just depends on the fact when he's on the football pitch he wants to play.

"He can make a difference between what's going on outside and what's going on on the football pitch. When you come on to the pitch you play football and give 100 per cent. That's what he does."

Wenger maintains hope Sanchez will stay.

"I want him to stay for longer," he added. "I have no problem if he signs with us now or in June."

Alex Iwobi did start, despite facing a fine for partying prior to last Sunday's FA Cup third-round loss at Nottingham Forest.

"If I think he can help the team to win, that's nothing to do with the fact he can be punished separately individually," Wenger added.

Wenger felt the familiarity of the teams, meeting for a second time in two weeks, contributed to the tepid draw.

Jack Wilshere went off with an ankle sprain which could make the midfielder doubtful for Sunday's trip to Bournemouth.

The Video Assistant Referee (VAR) was available in English football for the second time.

The most relevant moment of its use came when Cesc Fabregas wanted a penalty following a Danny Welbeck challenge after 88 minutes, but play continued after ref Martin Atkinson consulted VAR Neil Swarbrick and it was determined Welbeck got the ball.

Wenger felt the game had advanced from that moment, as more than a minute elapsed before the VAR was consulted at a break in play for a corner.

He added: "It looks a bit strange to go on for two minutes sometimes and after come back.

"That you cannot intervene straight away is a bit frustrating."

Chelsea head coach Antonio Conte felt more added time should have been applied due to VAR.

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