"I like the player" - Wenger speaks about bringing Mkhitaryan to Arsenal
Arsene Wenger has effectively confirmed that Alexis Sanchez will join Manchester United, and Henrikh Mkhitaryan is on his way to Arsenal.
On Thursday, it was reported that Sanchez has agreed a four-and-a-half-year contract with United - a deal that will make him the fourth-best paid footballer in the world. The Chilean's transfer was said to be delayed because Henrikh Mkhitaryan had yet to decide if he wanted to move to Arsenal as part of the deal. If the forward decided he wanted to join Wenger's team, then United's transfer for Sanchez would go through.
Well, it appears as though both transfers are on the verge of happening. When asked by reporters on Thursday for the latest update on the Mkhitaryan/Sanchez swap, Wenger said:
"It can happen, it can as well not happen. It is as that stage."
When asked if the transfer will be completed within the next 24-hours, the Arsenal manager said:
"Yes, it is likely to happen. But any minute things can break down, that’s how the transfer market is, these things are never guaranteed."
Crucially, when asked if Mkhitaryan will join his team as part of the transfer, Wenger replied:
"Yes, that is my understanding. I like the player."
There had been reports earlier this week that Mkhitaryan's wage demands could scupper the move. In The Mirror newspaper on Wednesday morning, a report that claimed that the former Borussia Dortmund forward is "holding Arsenal to ransom" with his "financial demands." In other words, he was negotiating a contract, and it appears Arsenal are happy with met the player's demands. Wenger said on Thursday that "the wages will not be a problem."
So, there you have it, the final hurdle in the Sanchez transfer looks to have been cleared. It appears as though Sanchez will become a United player before the weekend, and Mkhitaryan is on his way to the Emirates.
This could be one of those rare transfers that works out for every party involved. Arsenal get a big fee (£35m) for a player who is out of contract in a few months, and who doesn't want to be at the club. United get a world-class footballer at the peak of his powers, and Mourinho gets rid of a player he clearly doesn't rate. Mkhitaryan joins a club that will give him a chance to play his natural game, and he'll no-longer be dropped because he doesn't chase back full-backs. Fans of both clubs will arguably be happy with the outcome.