Sunday 24 February 2019

Arsenal and City playing blame game over failed Sanchez switch

Arsenal's Alexis Sanchez. Photo: PA
Arsenal's Alexis Sanchez. Photo: PA

James Ducker

Manchester City's £60 million (€65m) bid to sign wantaway Arsenal striker Alexis Sanchez collapsed amid much finger pointing last night as what promised to be an extraordinary final day of the transfer window ended with a whimper.

The Chilean - who will now be stuck at Arsenal until January at least - was not the only unsettled player left in limbo, with Southampton centre-half Virgil van Dijk and Liverpool's Philippe Coutinho failing to secure big-money moves away in a low-key end to an otherwise head-spinning window when spending exceeded a record £1.3bn (€1.41bn).

Arsenal had lined up Thomas Lemar to replace Sanchez after agreeing a staggering British-record £92m (€100m) deal with Monaco for the France attacking midfielder.

But Lemar is understood to have been reluctant to join Arsenal and, with no time to find an alternative replacement for Sanchez, they were forced to reject City's improved offer of £55m (€60m) plus £5m (€5.4m) in add-ons for the Chile striker, whom they now risk losing for a knockdown fee in January or nothing next summer when his contract expires.


In a further blow for City, their hopes of signing Jonny Evans from West Bromalso collapsed because they were unable to offload France centre-half Eliaquim Mangala, who rejected moves to West Brom and Crystal Palace.

Arsenal argued that Lemar, whom they had tried and failed to sign for around half yesterday's eye-watering offer earlier in the summer, did want to come and that City had left them with little time to complete a deal after leaving their move for Sanchez so late.

Arsenal felt they would have been able to complete a deal for Lemar but for an extraordinary £400m (€434m) transfer logjam that could have been averted had City bid slightly earlier.

Monaco were said to want to secure Paris-St Germain winger Angel Di Maria as part of the deal that took Kylian Mbappe to the French capital yesterday.

That was purportedly being held up because the French Football Federation were still scrutinising the terms of Mbappe's season-long loan move to PSG.

Arsenal striker Lucas Perez did, however, to return to Deportivo La Coruna

Elsewhere, Riyad Mahrez is on a collision course with Leicester after taking the remarkable step of leaving the Algeria national squad in an attempt to force a move on deadline day.

Leicester were stunned yesterday to discover the Algerian FA had tweeted that Mahrez had been given permission to leave their camp to finalise a move.

The tweet was later deleted but reports of Mahrez being spotted across Europe then surfaced, sparking memories of Peter Odemwingie's infamous crusade in January 2013 when he drove to QPR even though a deal was not agreed.

Chelsea, Spurs and Barcelona were linked with Mahrez during the summer but refused to do business, with Leicester sticking to their valuation of £50m. Roma were the only club to make offers for the former PFA Player of the Year, but their bids came nowhere near Leicester's asking price.

Mahrez will now have to explain his actions to Leicester when he returns from international duty, with his bizarre behaviour proving ultimately futile.

Liverpool confirmed the signing of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain from Arsenal for a fee of £35m (€38m).

Oxlade-Chamberlain has signed a five-year deal worth around £120,000 a week. It is quite a coup for Liverpool, having taken a player from Arsenal and denied Chelsea one of their prime targets.

The deal takes Liverpool's spending in this transfer window to around £130m (€141m), at least, although RB Leipzig's Naby Keita will not join until next year and Dominic Solanke's price is to be determined by tribunal.

Tottenham ended deadline day with a flourish by completing the signing of striker Fernando Llorente from Swansea.

The 32-year-old Spaniard, who was also a reported target for Chelsea, agreed a two-year deal with Spurs.

Spurs had earlier landed £23million Ivorian defender Serge Aurier from Paris St Germain on a five-year deal.

In Llorente's place, Swansea have re-signed Wilfried Bony from Manchester City as well as Bayern Munich midfielder Renato Sanches on loan.

Irish Independent

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