Arsenal are prepared to allow Alexis Sanchez leave for Manchester City if they can sign winger Raheem Sterling in a sensational swap deal, according to reports. Sanchez was on the brink of moving from the Emirates Stadium on deadline day in the summer transfer window but failure to acquire a replacement – rumoured to be Monaco's Thomas Lemar – saw the deal collapse.
The Guardian understood that a deal worth £55m (€62.3m) plus £5m in add-ons had been agreed between the Gunners and City for Sanchez to move to the Etihad Stadium, before the north Londoners pulled out a move for Lemar as the deadline approached. The Chile international therefore remains with Arsene Wenger's side until at least the mid-way point in the season.
City have been linked with a £20m move for Sanchez in the January transfer window but Wenger and Arsenal are eager to keep the forward and though they remain optimistic of him signing a new deal, he is likely to leave for free in the summer of 2018. But a move in the winter window could yet happen if Arsenal can acquire a replacement. Reviving interest in Lemar has also been reported.
Reports in the final 72 hours of trading in the summer suggested that City had made a desperate attempt to bring Sanchez to the club by offering Sterling in a cash-plus-player deal. Pep Guardiola later claimed that it was Arsenal who had submitted the proposal, one which had been emphatically rejected by the two-time Premier League champions.
But The Mirror understands that Arsenal will test City's resolve in January by launching another bid for Sterling. The England international has played a bit-part role for City this season having started just two of the club five Premier League, relegated to a starting role in the Carabao Cup against West Bromwich Albion. However, he has scored three goals. Sanchez meanwhile is yet to be fully reintegrated by Wenger, having only made two starts this season in the Europa League and the Carabao Cup.
Though Guardiola described the prospect of a swap deal as "zero chance" earlier this month, the Citizens may be forced to consider the offer as it would pave the way for Sanchez's departure amid interest from both Chelsea and Manchester United in the ex-Barcelona and Udinese hitman.
City are confident of signing Sanchez on a free next summer but they may feel that interest from their rivals means they must shell out in the winter rather than risk waiting until the end of the season. But if Chelsea and United's pursuit comes to nothing they are likely to wait to secure a cut-price deal.
Both Sterling and Sanchez will be eligible to play for their prospective new clubs in European competition in the second half of the season if the swap goes through, but only if City do not finish third in their Champions League group. Uefa regulations state players are not allow to represent two sides in the same competition, meaning Sanchez is only permitted to play for City if they remain in Europe's premier club competition.