Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has refused to confirm whether Manchester United have joined the race to sign Alexis Sanchez, but encourages a bidding war between the Old Trafford club and Manchester City.

Widespread reports on Thursday (11 January) suggested that United were ready to submit a £25m (€28.1m) bid to acquire Sanchez from the under the nose of City, who have been heavily linked with the nearly out-of-contract Chile international.

Though Wenger remains coy over whether United's reportedly interest is genuine he has welcomed the speculation, which could see the fee Arsenal eventually receive for Sanchez increase significantly.

"Honestly, I can't tell you much more at the moment about the situation," he told reporters, according to Sky Sports. "Nothing is concrete at the moment.

"It's not that I don't want to inform you, I don't want to give you wrong information. At the moment, nothing is decided one way or another.

"A bidding war is always beneficial to the club who can take advantage of it but we are not in that. I maintain what I said many times, that normally he should stay here until the end of the season, but we will see."

Sanchez came within touching distance of leaving Arsenal in the summer, only for his move to City to collapse as the Gunners failed to acquire a replacement, purported to be Monaco's Thomas Lemar.

Wenger has confirmed that Arsenal are in the hunt for new additions and that Sanchez will only be allowed to depart if a stand-in can be acquired.

"I don't rule it [further acquisitions] out," added Wenger, who made Konstantinos Mavropanos his first January signing last week. "Not at the back, in midfield or up front. We are open, we are in the market, we are active. This transfer market at the moment is very difficult. Things change very quickly.

"Do we find the same player [as Sanchez]? certainly not. There is always a way to find a balance. If it happens we have to find a different balance."

Bordeaux forward Malcom represents one possible replacement and Sky Italy understands Arsenal are due to hold talks over signing the Brazilian, who is valued at £40m by the Ligue 1 side.

Asked about Arsenal's pursuit of the 20-year-old, Wenger added: "He's a good player, but at the moment nothing is happening. We are not on that case at the moment."

Alexis Sanchez
Sanchez appears destined to leave Arsenal this month. Getty Images