Late gate-crasher to challenge Manchester United in the race to sign Alexis Sanchez
Manchester City are reported to have pulled out of the race to sign Arsenal's Alexis Sanchez, but Chelsea are rumoured to have rivalled Manchester United with a bid for the in-demand forward.
News that City have pulled out of the Sanchez scramble due to the spiraling cost of the deal for a 29-year-old attacking star who will be out of contract this summer appeared to pave the way for a move to Old Trafford.
Yet the Manchester Evening News are among those reporting that Chelsea have stepped into the mix with a late offer to keep the player in London.
Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has confirmed that Sanchez is set to leave the club this month after he refused to consider signing a new deal with the club, with City the long-time favourites to sign the player.
City had agreed a deal to sign Sanchez on transfer deadline day last August, but Arsenal's failure to sign Monaco's Thomas Lemar as his replacement meant the transfer fell through.
There was an expectation that Sanchez would move to City at the end of this season, but United have shaken up this transfer story by offering more money to Arsenal, bigger wages to the player and an inflated package for his agent as they have stolen a march in the transfer story.
Now the rumours that Chelsea could hijack the deal will add to the intrigue in the next 48 hours, with the Stamford Bridge club making a similar late move to sign striker Romelu Lukaku when United were close to snaring him last summer.
That attempt came to nothing as Lukaku move to Old Trafford, but they may be willing to match United's offer and allow Sanchez and his family to remain in London.
United boss Jose Mourinho refused to comment on his interest in Sanchez after his side's 3-0 win against Stoke on Monday, as he awaits information on his club's big money bid to land one of the Premier League's star men.
"I've no idea," he said when asked about Sanchez. "Today I was completely separate from all of that - I was just focused on my match and not worried about anything else.
"I'm not going to speak about hypothetical situations. Probably there are other clubs also interested and trying and I shouldn't talk about a player who is an Arsenal player."
United boss Mourinho and Chelsea manager Antonio Conte have been encouraging their clubs to spend more money in the transfer market and a deal for Sanchez would answer that call.