Arsenal forward Alexis Sanchez will not be joining Manchester City on deadline day after the north London club consigned themselves to defeat in their attempts to sign Thomas Lemar from Monaco as a replacement. The Chile international will see out the final year of his contract at The Emirates Stadium despite City agreeing a fee with the Gunners in the final hours of the summer transfer window.
The Guardian understand Pep Guardiola's side had a package worth an initial £55m plus £5m in add-ons accepted by the 13-time FA Cup winners, leaving them to secure a deal for a replacement to make the move a reality. Arsene Wenger's side were happy to meet Monaco's €100m [£92m] valuation of Lemar, seemingly paving the way for Sanchez to move to the Etihad Stadium.
But with Lemar in action for France in their World Cup qualifier against Netherlands in Paris on Thursday [31 August] and talks over his contract expected to be complex, Arsenal have been forced to withdraw from negotiations which sees both deals collapse.
Lemar is now consigned to remaining with the Ligue 1 champions - whose hemorrhaging of players now includes Kylian Mbappe who has joined Paris Saint-Germain - while Sanchez will serve the final year of his contract.
Arsene Wenger had been adamant throughout the summer that Sanchez, who had displayed little intention to extend his contract beyond 2018, would remain and not follow Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain out of the door in the final 12 months of his deal. The England midfielder moved to Liverpool on deadline day after rejecting the offer of fresh terms, in a move worth £35m.
But instead of cashing in on their prized asset, much like they did with Robin van Persie when the Dutch striker moved to Manchester United in 2012, Arsenal have made a major statement in keeping Sanchez. Nevertheless, they end the window having made just two signings in the form of Sead Kolasinac and Alexandre Lacazette, while six players head into the final season of their Arsenal contracts destined to leave on a free next summer.
Having missed the whole of pre-season and the opening two Premier League games of the campaign, Sanchez returned to the Arsenal first team for the trip to Liverpool but was ineffective as the visitors crashed to a 4-0 defeat at Anfield. The 28-year-old has often cut a dejected figure during harrowing Arsenal defeats in recent months and it remains to be seen whether he can again become a central figure for the club given how close he was to completing a move away.
Former striker Alan Smith, speaking prior to the news of both deals falling through, that Sanchez staying at Arsenal would be a "disaster". "That's going to be a huge gamble on Arsene Wenger's part," Smith told Sky Sports News. "To keep a player that they could get £50m or more right now, a player that might not be at it properly for the next ten months."
"Can you imagine how much of a disaster that would be for the dressing room, for Wenger and for the board? If he's [Wenger] not in for Mahrez... who else would he be going for? Sanchez perhaps will be stopping."