Manchester City are prepared to walk away from a deal to sign Arsenal’s Alexis Sánchez. The Premier League leaders feel the overall price for signing the Chile forward this month – transfer fee, agent costs and wage demands – is currently too high and must come down.
City are not concerned if this stance opens up a route for another club, even arch-rivals Manchester United, to step in.
Sánchez has long been a target for City and they offered £60m for the 29-year-old, without success, last summer. They would now hope to do a deal for a fee of around £20m but are understood to have been quoted £35m.
City have been convinced of Sánchez’s desire to work with his former Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola again for some time but they were prepared to wait until his contract expires in June.
A knee injury suffered by Gabriel Jesus on New Year’s Eve had the potential to change thinking and bring forward a potential deal, but the Brazilian’s problem is not as bad as feared.
With assessments suggesting Jesus could be back in training within three weeks, City have no urgent need to bring in another forward this month.
City understand Sánchez is keen to leave the Emirates Stadium in the current transfer window but they will not be pressured into overpaying by the player’s representatives, Arsenal or by the interest of any other club.
The Guardian reported on Thursday that United were keen to enter the race for Sánchez but there has been no confirmation from Old Trafford. City boss Guardiola refused to discuss the matter at a press conference to preview his side’s clash with Liverpool this weekend.
Guardiola said: “I understand completely this question, I understand you are doing your job, but you know my answer.
“I am not going (to speak about it). I’m focused on Liverpool, believe me. Alexis – everyone knows how good he is, but I am not going to answer about Alexis or other players.”
Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger, meanwhile, has stressed that Sánchez will only be allowed to leave the north London club this month if a replacement is found.
The Gunners, who maintain they have not yet received an approach for Sánchez, have been linked with Bordeaux’s Brazilian forward Malcom.
Wenger said: “Of course I want a quick resolution.
“Is he (Sánchez) replaceable in the way that we find exactly the same player? Certainly not, but there’s always a way to find a different balance.
“Alexis is an exceptional football player, he’s a world-class player and if that happens (he leaves) we have to find a different balance in the team.
“I have had many conversations about him and we talked about the fact that people are always observing you with a microscope when you’re on a short-term contract, but I’ve never questioned his professional attitude when he’s on the football pitch.”