Manchester United have made a dramatic late swoop to hijack Manchester City’s deal to sign the highly-rated winger Alexis Sanchez for up to £26.5 million.
It is understood that Sanchez’s representatives met with City officials on Friday to thrash out personal terms for the Chilean international. But in an unexpected twist that will cause alarm at Eastlands, it is believed the agents then had a further meeting, this time with United, yesterday morning.
Indeed, it is thought that the 22 year-old’s representatives have now indicated that their client would prefer to join United if a deal can be agreed, even though it appeared that a deal was well advanced with their City rivals.
Neither club has yet to agree terms with Udinese, although the Italian club have accepted that Sanchez can leave this summer and is free to discuss a move. Personal terms are not an issue for either Premier League club.
It had been thought Udinese would hold out for up to £35.4 million for Sanchez, who can play as a winger or central striker, but it is now accepted that a fee of between £18 million and £26.5 million is more realistic.
If United have gazumped City — and it is believed that Sir Alex Ferguson personally intervened in the hope of doing so, having also followed the player for some time — then it will be a severe blow to City, who regarded Sanchez as their key summer signing.They have tracked Sanchez for months, with officials, including football administrator Brian Marwood, travelling to Italy to monitor his progress.
Further talks were held with his representatives three weeks ago and since then the club have been confident that a deal was on the verge of being completed.
Despite City’s vast spending power they will not want to get into a tug-of-war with United over the player. United still have a greater global appeal than City when it comes to signings, even if the latter also qualify for the Champions League next season.