Alexis Sanchez set for summer battle to force Chelsea deal
Alexis Sanchez has put Chelsea at the top of the list of clubs he wants to join but faces a battle with Arsenal to make the move happen.
Chelsea are lining up bids for Sanchez and Everton striker Romelu Lukaku, and have not ruled out signing both forwards.
Paris St-Germain, Juventus and clubs in China are interested in Sanchez but the Chile international has said he is settled in London and Chelsea have jumped to the front of the queue over the past week.
Sanchez has gone on record as saying he wants to play for a club with a winning mentality and he sees Antonio Conte as the perfect coach to work under.
Chelsea are optimistic that a deal for Sanchez can be struck, with personal terms unlikely to be an issue, but Arsenal do not want to sell to a Premier League rival.
Arsenal would rather let Sanchez enter the final 12 months of his contract than see him join Chelsea, which may leave the 28-year-old having to try to force his way to West London.
Robin van Persie and Samir Nasri managed to clinch moves to Arsenal's rivals, Manchester United and Manchester City - Emmanuel Adebayor, Kolo Toure and Gael Clichy also went to City - in the past but Sanchez may have to push even harder to help his desired move go through.
The situation points to a potentially ugly summer saga, in which Arsenal could be faced with the scenario of keeping a player who no longer wants to play for them or allowing him to move to Chelsea.
Of more immediate concern to Chelsea is avoiding a second successive home defeat that could open up the Premier League title race.
Conte is again likely to be without Victor Moses for the visit of Manchester City tomorrow as the wing-back did not train yesterday because of a toe injury. Pedro Rodriguez deputised for Moses in the defeat by Crystal Palace and is likely to do so against City.
Conte's biggest decision appears to hinge on whether or not to keep Cesc Fabregas on the right of a front three or bring in Willian.
The mood at the training ground yesterday was described as being calm, despite Chelsea's lead at the top of the table being cut, and there were no special inquests.
Conte always makes his players watch video replays of their mistakes and there was no extra analysis of what went wrong against Palace.
Diego Costa believes a victory tomorrow night would finally end any slim title hopes City, who drew at Arsenal, may still harbour.
"Now is not the time to let ourselves down," said Costa. "We know this game will be a six-point affair since if we win the game they will (practically) be out of the title race while we keep the advantage."
Arsenal's on-field captain and senior centre-back Laurent Koscielny has been ruled out of tomorrow's London derby against West Ham with the Achilles tendon injury he suffered on Sunday against City.
Petr Cech is also unavailable for a fixture that will have a major bearing on the future of manager Arsene Wenger, who has been told that he must accept significant off-field change this summer if a new contract is to be agreed.
Arsenal have been looking across Europe at candidates for a sporting director role that would stretch beyond just recruitment and see the club move towards a more continental set-up.
Arsenal believe that change is now necessary and, while a decision on Wenger has not been made, he would be expected to fulfil his own stated desire to "reinvent" himself if he stayed.
City full-back Clichy has told protesting Arsenal fans they should be careful what they wish for over Wenger.
"I do believe he's the right man; he has been the right man for so many years," said the former Arsenal defender. "You always want something new when you're used to something and what you get is probably most of the time is not better than what you had." (© Daily Telegraph, London)