Arsene Wenger has confirmed that Alexis Sanchez's proposed move to Manchester United could be completed in the "next 48 hours" after the Chilean international was left out of Arsenal's squad for the 4-1 win over Crystal Palace on Saturday [20 January].
Wenger had initially included Sanchez as the 19th man in his travelling party to face Palace, but on Friday night it emerged that the former Barcelona star had been left out and was instead ready to undergo a medical with United.
Wenger confirmed that the player had travelled to Manchester but made it clear that the deal will only happen if Henrikh Mkhitaryan agrees to move in the opposite direction.
"I didn't play him [Sanchez] because there is the question of him moving to Manchester United. He could not drive up north and as well play football. That's difficult. So that's why I decided to leave him out," Wenger confirmed in his post-Palace press conference.
"I expect it to happen, maybe. But I cannot announce it. In the next 48 hours, it will be decided one way or another. With these kind of things, as long as it is not over the line, you cannot say that it will happen. The negotiations become more and more longer and edgy as well because every detail becomes public nowadays. I cannot say it will happen or not happen. If you want to have a bet… it could happen."
Pressed as to whether Mkhitaryan will be part of the deal, Wenger said: "It happens only one way if the other way happens as well. That is why it takes longer as well, because it has to be coordinated and so the pace of advancing on both sides has to be adjusted."
Borussia Dortmund striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has also been tipped to join Arsenal this month after being identified as the No.1 target to replace Sanchez.
Dortmund CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke has already confirmed that Arsenal have made an approach to sign the striker but Wenger was coy when asked about the Gabon international by the BBC.
"On Aubameyang no [I have no news], nothing is happening," Wenger said. "He can be left out of the Dortmund team for different reasons, certainly not for transfer reasons at the moment."
Meanwhile, Arsenal were handed a fresh injury concern ahead of the second leg of their Carabao Cup semi-final tie against Chelsea on Wednesday after Nacho Monreal was taken off during the first half of the win over Palace.
The versatile Spanish left-back returned to Wenger's starting line-up after recovering from an ankle injury that had prevented him from making a single appearance since the thrilling 3-3 draw against Liverpool on 22 December.
Monreal enjoyed a remarkable comeback to help Arsenal end a run of three Premier League games without a win, opening the scoring with a header in the sixth minute before also assisting Alex Iwobi and Laurent Koscielny for the next two goals.
However, the Spaniard had to give up his place to Ainsley Maitland-Niles in the 34th minute after appearing to pick up a knock to his hamstring.
Wenger said after the game that the substitution was just "precautionary" but it is still a concern for the Gunners with the blow coming only four days before that crucial League Cup derby against Chelsea.
"He has a kick on the back of the hamstring. It was precautionary," Wenger added.