LONDON • Arsene Wenger is adamant that Alexis Sanchez cannot leave Arsenal this month if a replacement is not brought in.
The Chile international has attracted interest from the Manchester clubs, with Jose Mourinho attempting to hijack a move to the Etihad Stadium.
Sanchez is determined to join Manchester City this month and reunite with his former manager Pep Guardiola despite late interest from United, who have reportedly made a £25 million (S$45.2 million) bid. United have also offered Arsenal the chance to sign Armenia midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan, 28.
City this week submitted a £20 million offer for Sanchez, who has not started the past two games and can leave Arsenal for free when his contract expires this summer.
There were fears among the City hierarchy that signing the 29-year-old could disrupt the balance of the squad but those concerns have been put to one side after Gabriel Jesus suffered a knee injury that is likely to keep him out for a month.
Sanchez has told his Arsenal team-mates that he wants to leave during the January transfer window and has already agreed personal terms worth around £250,000 a week with the Premier League leaders, which is believed to be less than what United are prepared to pay the player.
Arsenal are holding out for a fee of around £35 million and Wenger suggested that a bidding war would be ideal.
NO EXACT REPLICA
Replaceable in the way that we find exactly the same player? Certainly not but there's always ways to find a different balance. ''
ARSENE WENGER, Arsenal manager, admits that he will have to rejig his squad if forward Alexis Sanchez departs before the end of the January transfer window.
"It is always beneficial to the club who can take advantage," the Arsenal manager told a press conference yesterday ahead of his side's league clash at Bournemouth tomorrow. "I maintain what I have said many times that he should stay until the end of the season, but we will see."
Sanchez, who joined Arsenal in 2014, worked under Guardiola for one season during his spell at Barcelona.
Guardiola has maintained a good relationship with the forward ever since and told the City board last summer that he wanted to sign him.
Sanchez would have moved to City for £60 million last August had the transfer not fallen through because of Arsenal's failure to sign Thomas Lemar from Monaco.
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And Wenger made it clear yesterday that Sanchez's departure is contingent on reinforcements.
When asked if Sanchez will stay if the club cannot find a replacement, the Frenchman replied: "You summed it up well.
"Replaceable in the way that we find exactly the same player? Certainly not but there's always ways to find a different balance.
"He's an exceptional player, a world-class player. We have to find a new balance in the team."
He also played down speculation that Bordeaux winger Malcom is Arsenal's top target, insisting that the Gunners "are not on that case at the moment".
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