Manchester United icon Rio Ferdinand has risked the wrath of his former club’s fans by stating Arsenal superstar Alexis Sanchez should spurn their advances and join bitter rivals Manchester City.
The Manchester sides have emerged as the main suitors for the wantaway Chile forward, 29, as he enters the final six months of his contract.
Runaway Premier League champions City failed with a £60million (Dh302.7m) bid in the summer and have reportedly refused to meet the new financial demands of the player and club for the January transfer window, leading an opening for the second-placed Red Devils who have lodged a £25m (Dh126.1m) offer.
Ex-England centre-back Ferdinand, 39, won 14 trophies at Old Trafford from 2002-14. He, reluctantly, argued the Sky Blues now offer the better chance of gaining a large haul of silverware.
“I am going to be honest, if he has got an option to go from Arsenal to go to Manchester City or Manchester United, as a footballer who wanted to win trophies and would judge myself based on trophies being won, at the moment Manchester City looks like the place to go for him in that respect,” he told BT Sport about the player who has scored 80 goals in 165 appearances for the Gunners.
“They are top of the league, they are going to win the league this season, they are in the Champions League, they are looking like they will be in the final for the League cup, the FA Cup as well potentially. So he has got more opportunities to win trophies there.”
"Manchester City looks like the place to go for him."— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) January 13, 2018
"That looked like it hurt." 😱
"When we get to the break, I'm going to speak to the lady and ask for some tissues." 😂@rioferdy5 on Alexis Sanchez's future... ️👀 pic.twitter.com/tWlwZSKwPN
Quadruple-chasing City sit 15 points ahead of United in the top flight. They only need to navigate a second leg at the Championship’s Bristol City – United’s shock conquerors in the quarter-finals – to make the League Cup’s showpiece, plus they are also among the favourites for the FA Cup and Champions League.
Asked whether the relative positions of the two teams hurt, Ferdinand replied: ‘When we get to the break, I’m going to speak to the lady and ask for some tissues. This isn’t good, this isn’t a good moment for me. This isn’t nice man.
“It’s where it’s at, Manchester City, you have to pay the respect that they are due, they are flying.”
Another advantage Ferdinand saw for City is the fact Sanchez worked under their revolutionary head coach Pep Guardiola at Barcelona after he was bought from Serie A’s Udinese in July 2011.
He said: “He knows Pep. If Pep wants him again now, I am sure he is thinking I am going to go there the second time round and I am going to do it properly this time.”
The centre-back arrived at Nou Camp on a five-and-a-half-year contract and joins Philippe Coutinho among the club’s January recruits.
“I’m extremely satisfied to be here and fulfill my dreams. I worked and struggled to chase this, always with the feet on the floor and the eyes staring at the sky, trying always to do my bit, learning and helping and now I hope to do it with this club, the best in the world,” he said at his press conference.
“I want to make history here with my team mates, the directors, the president, with all the employees of Barcelona and I hope to succeed here.
“He’s (Lionel Messi) the best in the world to me, the first impression I had of him is that he’s very humble, I was on the bench and both Messi and Luis Suarez approached me, that was special to me, all my respect to him.”
Dwight Yorke has described Alexis Sanchez as the “spark” Manchester United are missing, urging his former club to sign the coveted forward from Arsenal this month ahead of rivals Manchester City.
The club from the blue half of Manchester have been long-term suitors for the explosive attacker, but their neighbours from the red suburbs are increasingly interested in signing him during the winter transfer window.
Reports emerged on Friday that City had baulked at Arsenal’s alleged demands of £35m (Dh176.5m) for the Chile international in January, while agents are likely to receive another £5m on top, totaling a £40m deal, before the player’s potential wages are taken into account.
Pep Guardiola’s Premier League leaders are reported to be unwilling to go beyond £20m, given they could get former Barcelona man Sanchez for nothing when his contract expires in the summer.
That has seemingly alerted United, and former Red Devils striker Yorke says Jose Mourinho should definitely go for the deal.
“He will add value to the team. He’s got a spark that at times we are lacking,” the 46-year-old told Sport360 after competing in the Abu Dhabi Invitational at Yas Links Golf Club on Saturday.
“He’s come to the Premier League and been a success. He’s a great player and if United can get him, that will certainly give them a chance to win something at the end of the season.
“He’s a quality player. You want players to improve your team and Sanchez can do that to United.”
Although Sanchez leaving Arsenal for Old Trafford rather than the Etihad would be a blow for City and Guardiola, Yorke agreed United have a history of capitalising on opportunity.
Sir Alex Ferguson famously signed Roy Keane in the summer of 1993, agreeing a deal with the Irishman on a Saturday when a paperwork issue had prevented Keane from signing for Kenny Dalglish’s side the previous day.
And Yorke is not surprised to hear of United’s interest in a player he believes is one of the best in the world.
“What I can always say is United have always been interested in the best players out there,” added Yorke, who scored 65 goals in 147 games during his trophy-laden four-year spell at United.
“And Sanchez obviously is one of the best players, not only in the Premier League, but around the world. So it’s not a surprise that United would be trying to get him.
“United and Jose (Mourinho) both have form for that (capitalising on a situation), and why not. I don’t think anything’s complete. City showed interest in him before, but if there’s a chink in the armour, that’s always been part and parcel of football.
“It comes as no surprise, even though some may think it’s a bit of a cheap ploy.”