Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola accepted he had lost out in the race to sign Alexis Sanchez as Jose Mourinho insisted Friday it was still not certain the Chile forward would join Manchester United.
Runaway Premier League leaders City, currently 12 points clear of United, play at home to Newcastle on Saturday, with Mourinho’s men at Burnley.
Arsenal’s Sanchez had looked set to reunite with Guardiola, his former boss at Barcelona, only for City to pull out of the deal on Monday.
It is understood Guardiola, club owner Khaldoon al Mubarak and other senior City officials were all unhappy at the wages that the Chile forward was demanding.
Sanchez is instead set to join United on a four-and-a-half year contract reportedly worth a staggering £505,000 a week ($701,000, 572,000 euros).
Guardiola suggested both the player and his agent Fernando Felicevich had driven the decision to choose a move to Old Trafford rather than push for a transfer to the Etihad –- but insisted that was their right.
He added it was a “pleasure” to manage Sanchez, the player he signed for Barcelona from Udinese in July 2011.
“I’m not the guy with the mathematics, with the numbers,” Guardiola told a news conference on Friday.
“What I know right now is that he (Sanchez) is still an Arsenal player.
“I think he is going to United so congratulations to both of them. At the end, the players, when they have contenders, they decide where they want to play.
“Their managers (agents) decide where they want to play. They decide that. Good luck (to them).
“My opinion on Alexis remains the same. It was a pleasure to be with him at Barcelona. He was going to decide to move on to another club, so I wish him all the best.”
But while Sanchez is understood to have agreed to United’s lucrative offer, his move appears to hinge on Henrikh Mkhitaryan heading in the opposite direction to Arsenal and this could prove a stumbling block.
– ‘Nothing new’ –
“There is nothing new,” Mourinho told reporters on Friday regarding Sanchez.
“I think clearly everybody knows that we are there and especially when the Arsenal manager (Arsene Wenger) speaks so clearly like he did.
“There is no point in trying to hide or deny but it is not done at all. So in this moment, Mkhitaryan is our player, Sanchez is an Arsenal player and with a match tomorrow (Saturday) I want to switch off and focus on the most important thing, which is the match.”
Sanchez’s proposed move to Old Trafford would cost United a reported £180 million ($249 million, 204 million euros) when fees and salaries are factored in and involves midfielder Mkhitaryan joining Arsenal.
United manager Mourinho was vague when asked if signing Sanchez was dependent on Mkhitaryan joining the Gunners but did confirm the Armenian will not play at Burnley.
“I don’t know,” said the Portuguese coach. “Sometimes people think transfers involve a lot the managers in the negotiations.
“I think it depends on the profile of the club, the way we establish our jobs and in my case when it goes to the table of negotiations I like to be out (not involved).”
He added: “I am out and I will just calmly wait for news, no more than that.
“He’s an Arsenal player, he’s not my player, there’s no point in me speaking about something that may or may not happen.”
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