Alexis Sanchez set for Man United as rivals Man City prepare to walk away from deal

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Manchester City are prepared to walk away from a deal to sign Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez, it is understood.

The Premier League leaders feel the overall price for signing the Chile forward this month – transfer fee, agent costs and wage demands – is currently too high and must come down.

City are not concerned if this stance opens up a route for another club, even arch-rivals Manchester United, to step in.

Sanchez has long been a target for City and they offered £60million for the 29-year-old, without success, last summer. They would now hope to do a deal for a fee of around £20million but are understood to have been quoted £35million.

City have been convinced of Sanchez’s desire to work with his former Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola again for some time but they were prepared to wait until his contract expires in June.

A knee injury suffered by Gabriel Jesus on New Year’s Eve had the potential to change thinking and bring forward a potential deal, but the Brazilian’s problem is not as bad as feared.

With assessments suggesting Jesus could be back in training within three weeks, City have no urgent need to bring in another forward this month.

City understand Sanchez is keen to leave the Emirates Stadium in the current transfer window but they will not be pressured into overpaying by the player’s representatives, Arsenal or by the interest of any other club.

Reports emerged on Thursday that United were keen to enter the race for Sanchez but there has been no confirmation from Old Trafford.

City boss Guardiola refused to discuss the matter at a press conference to preview his side’s clash with Liverpool this weekend.

Guardiola said: “I understand completely this question, I understand you are doing your job, but you know my answer.

“I am not going (to speak about it). I’m focused on Liverpool, believe me. Alexis – everyone knows how good he is, but I am not going to answer about Alexis or other players.”

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, meanwhile, has stressed that Sanchez will only be allowed to leave the north London club this month if a replacement is found.

The Gunners, who maintain they have not yet received an approach for Sanchez, have been linked with Bordeaux’s Brazilian forward Malcom. 

Wenger said: “Of course I want a quick resolution.

“Is he (Sanchez) replaceable in the way that we find exactly the same player? Certainly not, but there’s always a way to find a different balance.

“Alexis is an exceptional football player, he’s a world-class player and if that happens (he leaves) we have to find a different balance in the team.

“I have had many conversations about him and we talked about the fact that people are always observing you with a microscope when you’re on a short-term contract, but I’ve never questioned his professional attitude when he’s on the football pitch.”

Supplied by Press Association Sport

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Andres Iniesta says Philippe Coutinho signing won't "kick him out" of Barcelona

David Cooper 12/01/2018
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Still part of the team: Andres Iniesta

Philippe Coutinho’s €160million arrival from Liverpool will not spell the end of Andres Iniesta’s Barcelona career, the Spaniard defiantly says.

The Catalan giants have invested heavily following the summer exit of Neymar to Paris Saint-Germain with Ousmane Dembele and now Coutinho brought in to share the creative burden.

Brazil international Coutinho is widely viewed as the heir to Iniesta at Camp Nou with the 33-year-old skipper showing signs of aging this season.

But Iniesta is of the opinion the two will be complementary creators rather than antagonistic forces.

“I’m a player for this club and I’ve always said that only the best can play for this club,” he told Onda Cero.

“That makes Coutinho one of the best. He’s young and he has an innate talent, while Barcelona are a club where he can keep growing.

“There will never be a player that can make me retire or kick me out of here. At 33 years of age, that isn’t the issue. Coutinho has come here to improve us.

“I’m happy that he’s one of the best players in his position. He has the things that we like.

“He’s a quick and skilful player, who links up very well, uses both feet very well, creates goals and scores them.

“He’ll find a very good environment to grow here. The money we paid for him is another thing.

“The price of the market decides what a player is worth. Beyond the madness, we must be happy that he’s ours.”

Coutinho is currently sidelined with a thigh injury and is expected to make his Barca debut until the local derby with Espanyol on February 4.

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Real Madrid target Mohamed Salah discusses rumours of move away from Liverpool

Alex Rea 12/01/2018
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Staying put: Mohamed Salah

Mohamed Salah insists he “belongs to Liverpool” after brushing off rumours linking him to La Liga giants Real Madrid.

The former Chelsea star has been in fine form for Jurgen Klopp’s side following his £37million summer move from Roma, scoring 23 goals in all competitions.

The 25-year-old has emerged as one of the Premier League’s most outstanding talents and naturally his performances have attracted speculation of interest from the likes of Madrid.

Los Blancos are reportedly set for a summer splurge in reaction to their dire domestic form and rivals Barcelona’s heavy investment following the signing of Philippe Coutinho from the Reds this month.

However, Salah is ignoring the noise and has further maintained his commitment to the Anfield outfit.

“Well, I have heard so many rumours it does not bother me any more,” he told Soccer Laduma.

“But I have been treated very well at Liverpool and right now, I belong to Liverpool and I am happy at Anfield.

“Let us leave it at that.”

Salah’s exploits for Roma, Liverpool and the Egyptian national team saw him seal the African Player of the Year award for 2017.

Having guided his national side to a first World Cup since 1990, Salah is comfortably the country’s greatest ever talent and the forward is hoping his recent award will be the first of many.

He added: “I want to win this award again next year and the year after and perhaps 20 times.

“I want to be one of the greatest players ever to come out of Egypt.

“I am aware of previous players from my country that have achieved a lot, but, meaning no disrespect to any of them, I want to be remembered as the greatest player ever to come from Egypt.”

The prolific frontman has missed Liverpool’s last two games with a groin complaint but was back in full training this week as Klopp’s men prepare to host the Premier League leaders Manchester City on Sunday.

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