Manchester United are reportedly "close to agreeing" a deal to sign Arsenal contract rebel Alexis Sanchez and have moved ahead of Manchester City, who are hesitant to push for a move that could cost £124 million.
The Mirror's Jacob Murtagh cited Sky Sports Italy and reported the Red Devils stepped into the Sanchez race after learning City were unwilling to meet his £35 million price tag, not to mention the Chilean is seeking a deal worth £400,000 per week.
Taking into account the £15 million signing-on fee Sanchez is also understood to be asking for, those terms on a three-and-a-half-year deal would come to a total cost of a little more than £120 million.
Sanchez looked nailed on to complete a January move to the Etihad Stadium after being linked with the club for most of last summer, but Italian journalist Gianluca Di Marzio said the Red Devils now lead the chase, per Get French Football:
Get French Football @GFFN
Gianluca di Marzio says that Manchester United now lead Manchester City in the race for PSG target Alexis Sanchez, with the player's agents having made progress with the Red Devils.2018-1-12 12:34:36
According to Murtagh, United are prepared to send £27 million-rated Henrikh Mkhitaryan in the opposite direction as a sweetener, although his £200,000-per-week expected wages could be an issue.
A player-plus-cash deal could be exactly what's needed for United to win the race for Sanchez's signature, too, after ESPN FC's Mattias Karen reported Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said he needs an immediate successor:
Mattias Karén @MattiasKaren
Wenger confirms that Sanchez won't be sold unless Arsenal find a replacement first.2018-1-12 09:28:07
City spent big in the summer and were understood to have some funds in reserve after missing out on a deadline-day move for Sanchez, but it seems the cost of his prospective deal has taken the Citizens aback.
Despite protestations earlier in the campaign, Wenger also looks to have softened in his stance regarding a potential January exit for Sanchez, hinting on Friday that a departure could be on the cards, per Sky Sports News:
Sky Sports News @SkySportsNews
BREAKING: Arsene Wenger on Alexis Sanchez: "Nothing is really concrete at the moment and nothing is decided one way or another. Normally he would stay at the club until the end of the season but we'll see." #SSN https://t.co/oeCVU7VBYb2018-1-12 09:28:04
Unless City have a player of their own they'd be willing to offer in exchange, the promise of Mkhitaryan heading to north London could be what ultimately turns the tide in favour of an Old Trafford switch.
Another replacement option for Arsenal that's been reported is Bordeaux's Malcom, per BBC Sport's David Ornstein and Simon Stone, although Wenger distanced his club from the Brazilian youngster in a press conference on Friday, via Indy Football:
Indy Football @IndyFootball
Alexis Sanchez ↪️ Malcom ↩️ Arsene Wenger has responded to reports Arsenal are targeting the £45m-rated Brazilian. 👀 https://t.co/a5dhno0vcj2018-1-12 12:47:44
United manager Jose Mourinho is believed to have been searching for a new star winger for some time and was frequently linked with Inter Milan's Ivan Perisic over the summer before failing to land him, per Luke Brown of The Independent.
The £124 million total outlay mentioned may seem excessive for a player who recently turned 29, but United appear to be ready to seal a deal.