Arsenal target Malcom as they prepare for Sanchez exit

Alexis Sanchez

Forward Alexis Sanchez will leave Arsenal in January if a suitable offer arrives and a replacement is secured.

It is understood the Gunners hierarchy have privately accepted for some weeks that Sanchez is likely to depart after three and a half years at the club.

However, Arsenal are reluctant to sell without replacing the Chilean and their first choice is Bordeaux’s 20-year-old Brazilian forward Malcom.

Manchester City is 29-year-old Sanchez’s most probable destination.

Conversations have been held between the clubs but there is as yet no agreement on a fee.

Arsenal are thought to have asked for up to £35m, with Premier League leaders City initially suggesting they would pay around £20m. Sources anticipate a compromise of between £25m and £30m.

It is also widely reported that Manchester United will rival City’s interest and have already made a bid.

If a deal cannot be agreed, Sanchez will be able to leave when his contract expires in the summer – a situation Arsenal are keen to avoid as they would receive nothing.

The Chile international almost joined City for about £60m on the final day of the summer transfer window, only for the switch to collapse when Arsenal failed to sign Monaco and France midfielder Thomas Lemar.

Sanchez’s time at Arsenal
July 2014 – joins Arsenal for £35m from Barcelona on a four-year deal, despite interest from Liverpool and Juventus
May 2015 – finishes the season as Arsenal’s top scorer with 25 goals, including a goal in the FA Cup final win over Aston Villa
May 2016 – finishes season with 17 goals, despite missing over a month with a hamstring injury, but the Gunners fail to win a trophy
May 2017 – top scores for Arsenal again, with 30, as they win the FA Cup but fail to qualify for the Champions League
August 2017 – agrees a £55m move to Manchester City, but Arsenal cancel the deal when they fail to sign Thomas Lemar to replace him
January 2018 – after the forward scores eight goals in the first half of the season, City again consider signing him with six months left on his deal

‘It would be a coup for United over City’

Former Manchester United defender Phil Neville said Sanchez would be an “absolutely unbelievable signing” for the Old Trafford club.

Responding to reports that said a £25m bid had already been made, he told Sky Sports: “If you look back at Manchester United’s big signings over the decades, Eric Cantona came out of the hat, [Robin] van Persie was a surprise – and they both helped United win titles.

“I think this could have a similar impact. He’s got the character to play at Old Trafford,” the ex-England international added.

“It would be a coup, particularly for United fans, to have a player like Sanchez come to them over City. It would be a strong statement.

“It’s pretty obvious he’s not going to stay at Arsenal. I think if United were going to buy him, £25m would be an absolute snip.”

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