Jose Mourinho has suggested Henrikh Mkhitaryan has been left out of his Manchester United squad for Monday's [15 January] Premier League clash against Stoke City because the player's future at the club is uncertain.
Mkhitaryan, 28, has reportedly been offered to Arsenal as United seek to agree a deal to sign Alexis Sanchez from the north London side during the January transfer window.
Speaking last week, Mourinho appeared to confirm the Armenia international would be involved in Monday's clash against the struggling Potters. The versatile attacker however was left out of the starting XI and not named on the bench, fuelling talk of that proposed move to north London.
Speaking to Sky Sports ahead of kick-off, Mourinho explained he feels the player has been affected by the speculation over his future.
"I would be lying if I say it's a pure tactical decision. It was just a choice of the players that we know, in this moment, they have 100% their heads in Manchester United.
"No doubts about the future. I don't think it's easy for a player to play when there are doubts about his future. It is added pressure that a player doesn't need, so I think it's the best for him and for us, while the doubt is in the air, to protect him."
Mkhitaryan being left out of a match day squad would not usually be major news given his indifferent form this season but the speculation linking him with a move to the Gunners means the decision takes on a whole new light tonight.
United are now said to be the clear favourites to sign Sanchez during the mid-season window. Manchester City, who were widely expected to sign the Chile international this month, are no longer willing to meet either Arsenal's nor the player's demands, with United ready to meet both the club's £35m asking price and offer a salary package reportedly worth £350,000-a-week.