Alexis Sanchez: Manchester clubs tell Arsenal star decision is up to him

Manchester City are prepared to run the risk of losing long-term target Sanchez to neighbours United because they will not engage in a bidding war for the Arsenal striker.

They hope the player’s desire to play under Pep Guardiola again will swing a deal their way.

United have attempted to hi-jack City’s move by offering the Gunners a £35m transfer package, including Henrikh Mkhitaryan, and Jose Mourinho made no attempt to disguise his interest by describing Sanchez as a “phenomenal player.”

Highly-placed City sources insist they will not attempt to outbid United and will refuse to meet Arsenal’s £35m asking price – as well as the £5m agents’ fee – for a player who will be a free agent when his contract runs out this summer.

City are understood to want to pay only £20m to land Sanchez in this transfer window and their initial urgency to sign him this month has been eased by the news that Gabriel Jesus is not out for the season with a knee injury and could be back in action in three weeks.

They are prepared to wait until the summer, confident in the knowledge that Sanchez is keen on a re-union with Guardiola who pipped City for his signature when he took him to Barcelona from Udinese in 2011.

Despite that knowledge, there are concerns at the Etihad that Sanchez is so anxious to quit the Gunners this month he could run out of patience and decide to join United – if City do not make a move.

Mourinho chose his words carefully but inferred that Sanchez is too good a player for United to ignore if he is available.

He said: “At the general level what I can say is myself and the Manchester United board don’t believe a lot in the January market.

“We don’t believe in signing a player just to sign a player, just to do something.

“What we believe really is there are some players in the world football that if you have the chance to sign them in January, March or July, you have to try – and that’s it.

“But in relation to Alexis Sanchez I don’t say a word. The only words I can say is he is a phenomenal player. He is an Arsenal player and I feel I shouldn’t say much more than this.”

Guardiola refused to talk specifically about Sanchez but warned his players they must not allow the saga to become a distraction ahead of tomorrow’s trip to Anfield.

“The players have two choices, follow what people are saying or follow me,” he said.

“Hopefully I’ll convince them to follow the football on the pitch. Sunday’s game with Liverpool is all I want to focus on.

“Everyone knows the quality of Alexis but I’m sorry I can’t answer questions about him or other players.”

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