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Football: Sanchez, Mkhitaryan on brink of blockbuster swap deal

Alexis Sanchez is reportedly set to become a Manchester United player on Monday after a leaked image apparently showed the Chile international on the Old Trafford pitch in the club’s famous red shirt.

The Arsenal forward was pictured on Sunday arriving at United’s Carrington training complex ahead of his widely anticipated move, which will see midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan heading in the opposition direction.

Earlier Sunday, Sanchez posted a video on Instagram showing him walking across an airstrip towards a private jet.

A picture that was posted on social media on Sunday evening appeared to show him taking a selfie in a United shirt with his name and No. 7 on the back – the shirt worn by club legends George Best, Eric Cantona and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Sanchez, 29, is set to become United’s best-paid player, with his wages estimated at more than £500 000 ($695 000, 567 000 euros) a week.

Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger and United manager Jose Mourinho both said they expected the two-way deal between the Premier League rivals to go through.

Wenger said Sanchez was absent from the Arsenal squad on Saturday because he was close to completing a deal that has been in the making since United out-bid Manchester City for the former Barcelona star.

“I expect soon or never,” Mourinho said after his side’s 1-0 win against Burnley. “I think it is so close, so close, so close that if it doesn’t happen it’s not going to happen.”

Former England captain Alan Shearer said City could rue missing out on Sanchez.

“City seem very blase about it,” he said in his column in Britain’s Sun newspaper. “And given the 12-point cushion they have at the top of the Premier League why shouldn’t they be?

“Yes, it would have been difficult to find a regular place for him in the team given the players at Pep Guardiola’s disposal. But the deal is a big boost for their closest rivals.

“A club that is not content with a top-four spot and Champions League football but one who is after City and will not give up until they are back challenging for the top spot.”

United – without a Premier League title since 2013 – are second in the Premier League and are desperate to close the gap on their fierce rivals.

Sanchez will join a powerful array of attackers including Romelu Lukaku, Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial, Jesse Lingard and Zlatan Ibrahimovic but is expected to become a fixture in the team.

The departing Mkhitaryan struggled to pin down a permanent place under Mourinho at Old Trafford and will hope a move to Arsenal will revitalise his reputation, forged while playing for Borussia Dortmund.

© Agence France-Presse

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John Weaver
John Weaver
London sports coordinator for Agence France-Presse (AFP).

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