The convoluted mess that is the Alexis Sanchez transfer saga has taken another turn with Henrikh Mkhitaryan becoming a major player in the deal.
Man United want to sign Sanchez, and are in pole position to do so, but any transfer now appears dependent on the out-of-favour Armenian going in the other direction.
This, according to Mkhitaryan’s agent Mino Raiola, who told the Times:
“Manchester United are not going to sign Sánchez unless Mkhi agrees to join Arsenal.
“Sánchez is part of the Mkhi deal, not the other way around.”
Man United are keen to offload Mkhitaryan in this window in order make room for Sanchez and thus keep a tight squad. The former Dortmund forward has endured a frustrating 18 months at Old Trafford, and has started just one Premier League game since November.
Arsenal, meanwhile, are highly reluctant to sanction Sanchez’s sale without having a replacement tied up. With Theo Walcott also set to leave in the coming days it would leave the Gunners worryingly light up top if none of Mkhitaryan, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang or Malcom can be brought in first.
How Mkhitaryan being added to the mix would affect the £35m that Arsenal are demanding is unclear, though it stands to reason that Man United would offer some sort of fee on top of the player going in the other direction.
Arsene Wenger will also have to convince Mkhitaryan that the Emirates is the best place for him, having turned them down to join Man United in the summer of 2016. According to BBC Sport’s David Ornstein, there is some friction between Mkhitaryan and Jose Mourinho, but it has not made him desperate to leave Man United quite yet…
No agreement in place or close for Mkhitaryan to join Arsenal from Man Utd in Sanchez swap. He holds key & still mulling over #AFC / other clubs / staying #MUFC – if agrees to Arsenal, can happen quickly. Doesn’t see eye to eye with Mourinho but not desperate to go at all costs pic.twitter.com/n95zzQzYdg
— David Ornstein (@bbcsport_david) January 16, 2018
Reports from Armenia seem to think that Mkhitaryan has actually agreed to join Arsenal, however, so watch this space…
— T.V. (@ThibaudVezirian) January 16, 2018
Translation: “The transfer ofto , it’s done! Alexis Sanchez go to ⚽”