Monday 17 December 2018

Pep: Sanchez too big a risk

City boss feared move for Chilean would have damaged club and turned wage structure on its head

Pep Guardiola. Photo: PA Archive/PA Images
Pep Guardiola. Photo: PA Archive/PA Images

James Ducker

Pep Guardiola has claimed the stability of Manchester City would have been damaged had they succumbed to the financial demands of Alexis Sanchez and his agent.

Sanchez is expected to sign for Manchester United in the coming days, with Armenia midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan due to join Arsenal in return after bidding an emotional farewell to his United team-mates and club staff yesterday.

Mkhitaryan and Sanchez trained with their current clubs yesterday but neither are expected to be included in the United or Arsenal match-day squads to face Burnley and Crystal Palace respectively this afternoon.

It was revealed this week that United's move for Sanchez would be worth up to £180 million (€204m), which includes a signing-on bonus of £20m (€23m) to the Chilean, as well as wages of around £510,000 (€580,000) a week before tax and a payment of at least £10m (€11m) to the player's agent Fernando Felicevich.

City had been the firm favourites to sign Sanchez after a long courtship, which included a collapsed £60m deadline-day bid last August, but Guardiola said the Premier League leaders pulled out of the race after baulking at the spiralling cost of a deal that would have jeopardised the club's wage structure and wider stability.

Argentina striker Sergio Aguero is City's highest earner, on around £250,000 (€284,000) a week, but Sanchez's salary would have dwarfed that, comfortably eclipsing the new £16m (€18m) deal midfielder Kevin De Bruyne is on the verge of signing and risked upsetting dressing-room harmony.

"Normally, we try to be stable with the wages of the players because I think it is good for the team and stability of the club," City manager Guardiola said.

"I've never put pressure on a club when they believe it is too much. Immediately, I accept that decision and move forward to find another solution. The stability of the club is the most important thing.

"We've spent a lot of money, we can't deny that. But in my period at Barcelona, my period at Bayern Munich and now here, I never pushed or pressured the club to say, 'I want those players' when the club believes and says it's too much."

City are convinced Sanchez's preference was to join them and feel his head has been turned by the money on offer at their rivals.

Guardiola issued a warning to Sanchez by insisting it was a "mistake" for players to go ahead with a move they were not "completely committed" to but insisted he felt no anger towards the player he managed at Barcelona and congratulated United on their impending signing.

"I think if the player decides to move to another club, it is because they are completely committed to what they want to do in terms of salary, in terms of where they want to be, where they want to live, their family," Guardiola added.

"If they move on and they are not completely committed, it is a mistake for the player, for the manager and for the club as well. I think he is going to United so congratulations to both of them."

City are expected to recruit a centre-half this month, with West Brom defender Jonny Evans in their sights. They are also working on a deal for Shakhtar Donetsk midfielder Fred, with a view to the Brazilian joining at the end of the season, and will also aim to sign another centre-half and a striker in the summer.

"We feel we need to invest in the summer, with three or four (players)," Guardiola said.

Jose Mourinho, the United manager, has warned his players not to allow the Sanchez saga to affect their focus against Burnley.

"In this moment Mkhitaryan is our player, Sanchez an Arsenal player and with a match (against Burnley) I want to switch off and focus on the most important thing, which is the match," he said.

Mourinho said that he felt the January transfer window was "to help clubs that didn't work well in the summer" but described Sanchez as a "special situation".

The Red Devils boss also revealed Michael Carrick has signalled his intention to join his first-team coaching staff once the United midfielder retires from playing at the end of the season. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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