Alexis Sanchez is close to joining Manchester United in what is set to be a rare swap deal among two of England's top teams with Henrikh Mkhitaryan going to Arsenal.

By Associated Press
January 22, 2018

LONDON (AP) – Alexis Sanchez is close to joining Manchester United in what is set to be a rare swap deal among two of England's top teams with Henrikh Mkhitaryan going to Arsenal.

Both players were pictured by British newspapers Monday entering an office in Liverpool to update their work permits.

While Sanchez has entered the final six months of his contract at Arsenal, Mkhitaryan was 18 months into a four-year deal at United.

Manchester City came close to signing Sanchez in August and ended its interest in the forward this month following a rival bid from United. The Premier League leaders said Sanchez and his agent increased their financial demands and that they didn't want to destabilize the team by bringing in a player who would be their highest earner.

Mkhitaryan moved to United in 2016 from Borussia Dortmund, where he was the German league's Player of the Year, but struggled to secure a regular place in the team under Jose Mourinho except in the first few months of this season.

A hard-running and explosive forward, Sanchez joined Arsenal from Barcelona in July 2014 for about 30 million pounds, choosing a move to London amid interest from Liverpool.

He was the top scorer in two of his three completed seasons at Emirates Stadium and helped Arsenal win the FA Cup in 2015 and '17, quickly becoming a favorite with the fans. However, with Sanchez happy to run down his contract, Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger accepted the need to sell his star player, who was reportedly disrupting the harmony in the team.

United showed opportunism in making its move for Sanchez, forcing City to end its interest in the player, and will see the Chile forward as a statement signing like Eric Cantona in 1992 and Robin van Persie - who also arrived from Arsenal - in 2012.

Before Arsenal, Sanchez scored 39 goals in his three seasons at Barcelona after joining from Italian club Udinese.

Sanchez will add some dynamism to a front line that already includes Romelu Lukaku, Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford. Mourinho tried unsuccessfully to sign a winger in the last offseason.

Mkhitaryan was substituted at halftime of his first league start for United, setting the tone for what has turned out being a disappointing spell after arriving in English soccer for $33.5 million and with a big reputation. The Armenia international scored 23 goals and set up 32 more in his last season at Dortmund but failed to reproduce anything close to those numbers at United.

With injuries also affecting Mkhitaryan in his early months at United, Mourinho said the player needed time to adjust to the physicality and intensity of the Premier League.

He finished last season by scoring an acrobatic goal in United's 2-0 win over Ajax in the Europa League final in Stockholm and began this season well, too, setting up five goals in his first three games.

Mkhitaryan has been a marginal figure at United in recent months, with Jesse Lingard starting ahead of him behind Lukaku. He has five goals in 39 league appearances for United, rarely completing 90 minutes.

The 29-year-old Mkhitaryan has previously said his favorite team is Arsenal and his impressive technique, allied with Wenger's naturally attacking philosophy, should make him a good fit at the London club.

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