It’s unusual for Wenger to answer any questions about a transfer until after its done but when questioned today before the match against Crystal Palace (you may not know this but football does happen during the transfer window) he was frank about the deal. Arsenal are selling Alexis to Man U and trying to get Mkhitaryan in return. In fact, the entire deal hinges on getting a player in return. Wenger said,
“Look, the problem was exactly similar to what it is today. I only accept to let him go if somebody else comes in for him and it was not possible in the summer. I would have done it, but it was not possible as it happened very late on the last day of the transfer market and that’s why it didn’t happen. Overall, if it happens now it is because somebody else comes in for him.”
The player this summer was Thomas Lemar, today it’s Henrikh Mkhitaryan.
Asked whether wages were the problem, Wenger said no and halted any conversation about how much Man U were offering Alexis Sanchez. Rumor from Matt Law (the Telegraph) says that United are offering Alexis £27m annual wages over 4.5 years, a £20m signing bonus, £10m to his agent, and throwing in £25m to Arsenal. How much of that last amount Arsenal will actual recoup is unknown with other sources saying that Arsenal would get nothing in return if Mkhitaryan is included.
It’s an enormous outlay for a player who just turned 29. In the first full year of his contract, Man U will be paying around £70m just in the player’s salaries and fees. That’s not including any money transfered to Arsenal as part of the deal.
Probably owing to that fact, Wenger was asked if wages were a problem at Arsenal and he responded saying that clubs like United and City were on another level but also that wages shouldn’t be an excuse for Arsenal because as he admitted Arsenal are in the top tier. City’s rumored deal to Alexis was slightly less in wages, £25m, a smaller bonus of £15m, and a smaller agent’s fee of £5m. That would have put them at a first full year’s outlay of “ONLY” £57m.
The deal for Alexis-Mhkitaryan is expected to be concluded within the next 24-48 hours. Read all of Wenger’s fascinating quotes on the topic over at Arsenal.com.