United poised as City baulk at Sanchez fee
Manchester City are prepared to walk away from a move to sign Alexis Sanchez after baulking at the financial demands of the deal, even though that could pave the way for the Arsenal striker to join rivals Manchester United.
Jose Mourinho, the United manager, refused to rule out a move for Sanchez last night, describing the Chilean as a "phenomenal" footballer and claiming it was difficult to turn down the chance to sign players of that calibre when they became available.
Arsene Wenger, the Arsenal manager, admitted for the first time yesterday that Sanchez would not extend his contract, which expires at the end of the season, and United have now emerged as serious potential buyers.
City are still thought to be the front-runners for Sanchez and believe his preference is to join them and play for Pep Guardiola, under whom he spent a season at Barcelona.
But City are reluctant to meet Arsenal's £35 million (€39m) asking price and foot the £5m (€5.6m) bill Sanchez's agent, Fernando Felicevich, is reputed to want for his part in the deal.
That tally of £40m (€45m) is around double what City are willing to pay for a 29-year-old who will become a free agent in the summer.
A compromise fee of between £25m (€28m) and £30m (€34m) may still be the most likely outcome but there remains a huge disparity at present, a situation that could open the door for United.
City's stance has been influenced to some extent by the news that Gabriel Jesus is likely to return to action in the next two to three weeks, according to Guardiola, which has alleviated some of the club's need to sign another striker this month.
It was feared the Brazilian could be out until the end of next month after damaging medial knee ligaments in the New Year's Eve fixture away to Crystal Palace.
Yet after Jesus made two visits to Barcelona to see Dr Ramon Cugat, Guardiola's favoured specialist, the prognosis is far more optimistic, meaning City are feeling under far less pressure to buy. (© The Daily Telegraph, London)