Alexis Sanchez bid farewell to his Arsenal team-mates on Friday night as his protracted switch to Manchester United was on the verge of completion.
Manager Arsene Wenger was giving serious consideration to including Alexis Sanchez in his match-day squad to face Crystal Palace on Saturday after Danny Welbeck sustained a injury in training on Thursday.
The attacker then said his goodbyes to team-mates and backroom staff in preparation for his move to United.
Sanchez had been working with Arsenal’s development squad this week, but returned to senior training on Friday.
United will pay £35million for Sanchez — a £20m transfer fee to Arsenal and £15m to the player’s agent Fernando Felicevich. Sanchez will earn £350,000 a week plus an extra £100,000 a week for image rights over the course of a four-and-a-half-year contract. He will also receive £7.5m a year for four years as a signing-on fee.
Part of the reason Arsenal have agreed to sell the 29-year-old to United is because they wanted Mkhitaryan, who was linked with the Gunners before he joined United for £26m from Borussia Dortmund 18 months ago.
United’s valuation of Mkhitaryan is also £35m but negotiations over a straight swap have dragged on owing to the complexities of the deal. Mkhitaryan earns £140,000 a week at United and is set for an increase that will make him the highest earner at Arsenal.
Mourinho insisted that signing Sanchez in this window should not be interpreted as a panic buy or sign of weakness in his squad, and more a reflection of the player’s quality.
‘For me, the point of the January transfer window is to help the clubs that didn’t work well in the summer,’ said the United boss. ‘Because of that, we don’t like to do business in January because it shows that we didn’t give our best.
‘But if you have the chance to get some special players, some player that you could do (next) summer and you have the chance to do it now, that’s a special situation and you try to do it.
‘It is not the point of lacking something or we desperately need something. It is just thinking about the improvement of the team.’
United hijacked Sanchez’s proposed move to Manchester City after their rivals thought they had a deal in place with Arsenal to reunite the former Barcelona forward with Pep Guardiola. Chelsea and Liverpool are also believed to have expressed an interest in signing him.
City are thought to be unhappy that the terms of the agreement changed, and Guardiola confirmed that the Premier League leaders were not prepared to shatter their wage structure to accommodate Sanchez’s demands.
‘Normally we try to be stable with the wages of the players because I think it is good for the team and stability of the club,’ said the City manager.
‘I’ve never put pressure on a club when they believe it is too much. Immediately I accept that decision and move forward to find another solution. The stability of the club is the most important thing.’