Arsene Wenger admitted Friday that Alexis Sanchez‘s future is up in the air as Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola stayed tight-lipped over potential moves for the forward during the January transfer window.
Guardiola’s bid to buy Sanchez collapsed at the end of the summer transfer window and Manchester City were favourites to land him this time around but the club are apparently unwilling to meet Arsenal‘s reported £35 million asking price.
Mourinho’s Manchester United are understood to have thrown their hat into the ring, bidding around £25 million to trump City’s £20 million offer as they seek to bolster their forward options and deny their bitter rivals.
When asked if United were interested in signing the 29-year-old Chilean international, who is out of contract at the end of the season, Wenger said “nothing is really concrete at the moment”.
Questioned as to whether there was any truth in the rumour, the Arsenal manager was coy.
“You conclude that,” he said. “You could say that at the moment… it’s not that I don’t want to inform you, I don’t want to give you wrong information and at the moment I must say nothing is decided one way or the other.”
Wenger admitted a bidding war could help Arsenal but said that was not the current situation.
In later press conferences on Friday, neither Guardiola nor Mourinho gave much away over a potential move for the Arsenal man.
Guardiola said his focus was on maintaining City’s fine form when they travel to Liverpool in the Premier League on Sunday.
“I understand completely why you ask this question (about Sanchez), it’s your job,” said Guardiola. “But you know my answer. I am focused on Liverpool.”
Mourinho, who described Sanchez as a “phenomenal player”, said: “I don’t know if it’s ethical or correct to be speaking about players of other clubs.”
“Sanchez is an Arsenal player,” he added. “Probably this weekend he is going to defend Arsenal colours so I don’t think it’s correct to say things about Alexis Sanchez.”
Arsenal boss Wenger said Sanchez would only be allowed to leave if they could get a new signing over the line — the club have been linked with young Bordeaux forward Malcom.
“Of course I want a quick resolution,” he told reporters at Arsenal’s north London training base.
“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 (and he leaves) we have to find a different balance in the team.”
Theo Walcott is another Arsenal player poised to leave this month, with Everton manager Sam Allardyce revealing on Friday that they are hopeful of sealing a permanent deal.
Wenger said he does not want the 28-year-old to leave, but conceded he cannot guarantee the forward playing time and an unlikely route into Gareth Southgate’s England squad for the World Cup.
The tug of war between Manchester United and Manchester City over Arsenal star Alexis Sanchez has heated up of late and Jose Mourinho has only stirred the pot after his comments at a press conference on Friday.
When asked about the links to the 29-year-old who’s contract at the Emirates Stadium runs out in the summer, he was typically contradictory.
He started by refusing speak about Sanchez in particular before going on to do just that indirectly in a thinly veiled hypothetical.
“I don’t think it’s correct to say things about Alexis Sanchez,” he said.
“At the general level, what I can say is that myself and the Manchester United board, we don’t believe a lot in the January market. We don’t believe in signing players just to sign a player, just to do something. We don’t believe in that.
“What we believe really is that there are some players in the football world, if you have a chance to sign them, it doesn’t matter if it is in January, March or July you have to try.
“But in relation to Alexis Sanchez, I don’t say a word. The only word I can say is the same word that everybody says, he’s a phenomenal player.
“Apart from that, (he’s an) Arsenal player, I feel I shouldn’t say much more than this.”
United are understood to have bid £25m for the Chilean, £5m more than City are prepared to pay, while also offering the player higher wages.
Jose Mourinho‘s Manchester United side have fallen too far behind in the Premier League title race and are underdogs for the Champions League crown. So it’s no surprise that the club have been linked with reinforcements in a bid to jump-start their season.
So which one should United look to buy? Here’s our verdict on each attacker.
If it weren’t for the more recent rumours about the other two players, United’s interest in Sanchez would have been the surprise story of the window. He’s long been linked with a move to City, so much so that it seemed more or less a done deal.
But even given City’s 15-point lead at the top of the table, signing Sanchez now seems like a risk. It could upset the chemistry and balance of the team trying to integrate him, as that would require sacrificing one of Raheem Sterling or Leroy Sane. He’s also a player who dominates the ball, which would mean an uneasy settling in period alongside City’s pass masters, Kevin de Bruyne and David Silva.
At United, there’s more of a need, and more of a likelihood that he’ll instantly make an impact. And while he hasn’t reached the form of previous years this season, of the three targets there’s no doubting he’s the best player. Vardy just about outscores him, with 0.45 goals per 90 minutes to 0.42 – but Sanchez is not a striker, making that small gap to one of the Premier League’s leading strikers a remarkable statistic in itself.
Unsurprisingly, he creates far more chances per 90 minutes – 2.99 to Chicharito’s 1.20 and Vardy’s 0.79 – and thus has more assists, making him a much more potent all-around attacking force.
Plus, in the ultimate test of a Mourinho attacker, Sanchez is on par or better than the two strikers defensively. He effects the most tackles per 90 out of the three, and makes his presence felt in his own half more often, with more blocks than Vardy and Chicharito. All three fit the Mourinho mould of being willing to put in the hard work but Sanchez does it best.
COMPATIBILITY RATING – 8/10
Vardy has shown that his hard-nosed mentality – not so different to Sanchez, who often plays like a street fighter – is backed by a store of willpower that helps him succeed at any level.
He’s scored nine league goals already this season, tied for eighth in the Premier League scoring charts. That’s only one less than Lukaku and nearly as many as Sanchez and Chicharito combined (11). He’s also the most accurate of the three options, scoring with 26% of his shots.
What that would mean at United is that Lukaku could get some rest without there being any drop off in goal threat. The two could also play together, which would be a nightmare for defences – both have a physical, bruising style but also a keen sense of movement.
The knock against Vardy is his age – at 31, he may not have more than two seasons left in him at this level. He’s also likely to be the most expensive of the three transfer targets, with Leicester having reportedly set his valuation at £35million.
In today’s market, that’s still fairly cheap for a striker of his quality, but with United certain to reinforce the squad again in the summer, is it worth spending that much on a player whose value will only dip as his career goes on?
COMPATIBILITY RATING – 6/10
Chicharito’s return to the Premier League hasn’t quite worked out with West Ham struggling to find any attacking fluidity earlier this season. Then, of course, David Moyes became the Hammers manager, a development that coincided with Chicharito suffering an injury.
Moyes was never sold on Chicharito when the two were at United, and it seems that impression has remained. The Mexican isn’t the best fit for the Scot’s style, especially with a striker like Andy Carroll available.
It’s no surprise that across most metrics, Chicharito comes in below Vardy and Sanchez. He’s only scored four league goals, and hasn’t bagged an assist yet. And unexpectedly for a player who’s made a name for himself as a goal poacher, he has the lowest shot accuracy – of himself, Vardy, Sanchez, and Lukaku, he’s the only player whose accuracy is lower than 50%.
Despite West Ham’s struggles, Chicharito creates more chances per 90 minutes (1.20) than both Vardy (0.79) and Lukaku (1.14). It’s much less than Sanchez’s 2.99, but then, the Chilean is more of a creator by nature anyway.
In Mourinho, he’ll have a manager who’s a known and vocal admirer of his abilities, which will do wonders for his confidence. There’s also his history at the club – he was a fan favourite at Old Trafford during his first spell, and he scored crucial goals to fire the club to two league titles during that time. Back in comfortable, familiar surroundings, with the love from fans washing over him and an appreciative manager, Chicharito could thrive.
But the biggest factor? West Ham may be willing to part with him for the same amount they spent in the summer – just £17million. A proven player who can lead the line on his own, play alongside Lukaku, or come off the bench, at that price, is a steal.
COMPATIBILITY RATING – 7/10