Arsene Wenger wasn’t as defiant as he has been when discussing Alexis Sanchez’s future at Arsenal on Friday.
Reports have been rife in recent days that Sanchez, 29, will be sold in January with Manchester City the long-standing favorites to sign the Chilean forward (their $75 million deal was called off on deadline day back in September 2017) before he can leave Arsenal for nothing on a free transfer in July.
However, multiple reports surfaced on Thursday suggesting that Manchester United have entered the race for Sanchez and would be willing to pay a higher transfer fee than City and a deal could include Henrikh Mkhitaryan heading to Arsenal in exchange.
Speaking to reporters on Friday ahead of Arsenal’s trip to Bournemouth on Sunday (Watch live, 8:30 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com), Wenger was keeping his cards close to his chest when asked about United’s bid and Mkhitaryan.
“Nothing is really concrete at the moment. You conclude [that Manchester United are also interested] – but I don’t want to give you the wrong information. Nothing is decided one way or the other,” Wenger said. “Normally he should stay here until the end of the season but we shall see.”
A change in Wenger’s mood was definitely noticeable as he had previously stated that Sanchez, and Mesut Ozil, would both stay at Arsenal until the end of the season.
Now, it seems like the situation has altered. Sanchez’s output (7 goals in 20 PL games so far this season) hasn’t lived up to his last three campaigns at Arsenal and rumblings suggest the rest of the squad have become unsettled with his attitude.
Wenger defended Sanchez’s recent form, even though he was left on the bench for the League Cup first leg draw at Chelsea on Wednesday.
“I don’t question Sanchez’s passion. I have had many conversations with him and we talked about how people always observe you with a microscope when you’re on a short term contract but I’ve never questioned his professional attitude on the pitch,” Wenger said. “[His form] is not necessarily linked with the length of your contract – [losing form] can happen even if you’ve got 10 years to go.”
All the signs are pointing towards Arsenal offloading Sanchez in the next few weeks, with Bordeaux’s Brazilian forward Malcom reported to be interesting the Gunners, even though Wenger admitted he was a good player “but at the moment nothing is happening” with that particular deal.
It seems there is now more hope than ever for the two Manchester clubs when it comes to signing Sanchez.
As for Arsenal this weekend, Wenger has been handed a fitness boost with Aaron Ramsey returning to the squad, Jack Wilshere‘s ankle injury isn’t as bad as first feared and he could play at Bournemouth on Sunday, while Mesut Ozil is rated at 50/50.