First Alexis Sanchez Manchester United jersey is printed at Adidas store as move edges closer
The first Alexis Sanchez Manchester United No.7 shirt has been printed at the Adidas store in London, with a rush of sales on the jersey when the Chilean's move from Arsenal is confirmed set to boost the coffers of the sportswear giant in the coming weeks.
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has confirmed that Sanchez is "likely" to make a lucrative move to United in the next few days and he is set to be handed the club's iconic No.7 shirt, that was previously worn by club legends George Best, Bryan Robson, Eric Cantona, David Beckham and Cristiano Ronaldo.
While United will get a small percentage of profits from a boost in shirt sales following Sanchez's move, Adidas will be the big winners as their record breaking £750m shirt deal with the Old Trafford giants that was signed in 2015 ensures they collect the bulk of profits from sales of the club's red shirts.
Adidas pay United £75m-a-year as part of the deal they signed to replace rivals Nike as the club's kit supplier and in return, with Sanchez's commercial standing highlighted by the Sports Direct list of the most popular shirts in English football last year.
United stars Paul Pogba and Zlatan Ibrahimovic were the most popular names on the back of shirts sold in 2016, with Sanchez in third place, while the 2017 list confirmed that Pogba and United forward Romelu Lukaku were the most popular names sold.
Sanchez's lavish transfer to United could be finalised ahead of this weekend's Premier League matches, with the fine details of Mkhitaryan's move to Arsenal being negotiated by his agent Mino Raiola over the past 48 hours.
Significantly, Wenger confirmed Mkhitaryan's wage demands will not be a problem in finalising the deal, despite reports suggesting the Armenian was demanding a salary that would have forced Arsenal to break their wage structure and that should remove one of the final obstacles to what may be the most lucrative swap deal in English football history.
"That is a story where you are well documented in the media so I do not have a lot to add to that," Wenger says. "It can happen, it can as well not happen, but it is likely.
"If it doesn't happen he will play on Saturday. I worked on transfers for 30 years so it is likely to happen but at any moment or minute things can break down. As long as it's not over the line you have to accept it may not happen. These kind of things are not guaranteed.
I have no problem with Alexis Sanchez. His attitude has been outstanding with us. He was in training yesterday, fully committed and prepared 100 per cent. One thing you cannot question about Alexis Sanchez is his professionalism and his commitment. After that, he's 29 years old and the next contract will of course be very important for him.
Wenger was also asked about the lavish wages reportedly being offered to Sanchez by United, with some suggestions that he has been offered a packed with around £500,000-a-week.
"I wouldn't like to come out on the numbers, that's a United problem," he stated. I respect United because they generate the money they pay by their own resources.
"United is a club very well managed financially and of course on the pitch so that's why I don't have any problem with the money they pay.
"Modern football has created a kind of game where the best players in the game are grouped to a various small number of clubs.
"That makes football less unpredictable and much more predictable. I would say the gap in financial resources between the biggest clubs and the smaller clubs has increased tremendously in the last five years."
Wenger was asked whether Arsenal will need to change their wages structure to compete with their domestic rivals, but he suggested that is unlikely to transpire.
"That would need a longer explanation than just a short press conference," he responded. "It's debatable but not feasible. I do not want to come out with the numbers now because I feel it would not be the right moment. We did the maximum we could afford to do. One day maybe I will come out on that. Today's not the moment.
"There's no mystery that United and City have bigger financial resources. Can we compete? Yes, financially yes. That doesn't mean that you cannot compete on the pitch. That will not be an excuse big enough to not compete on the pitch."
Wenger also dismissed some reports in recent days suggesting he was reluctant to sign Mkhitaryan, as he confirmed he was a big admirer of the former Borussia Dortmund midfielder.
"It's a possibility it's because I like the player. We played many times against him when he was at Dortmund. He appreciated the quality of our games and he loves the club," he stated. "The wages would not be a problem."
Wenger also confirmed that he did not expect to sign Bordeaux midfielder Malcom in this transfer window and confirmed that Mesut Ozil will not be leaving Arsenal in this transfer window even though his contract is due to expire in June.