Alexis Sanchez
Alexis Sanchez has been pivotal for Arsenal this season, but their continual failures look set to lead to his departure Getty Images

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola believes that Arsenal's Alexis Sanchez is only a level below Lionel Messi and he understands why there is a lot of speculation over his future as he has just over a year left in his contract. The forward has been linked with a move out of the Emirates in the summer should the Gunners fail to reach an agreement with the Chilean, with both Manchester clubs reportedly interested in his signature.

Sanchez played under the Spaniard during his time in Barcelona, but made the move to Arsenal in 2014, where he won the FA Cup. He has been an integral part of the Gunners' season, without whom they would have struggled to finish in the top half of the table, having scored 23 goals and assisted 14 in 42 appearances for the club in all competitions.

The Mirror reports that Guardiola is closely following his situation along with Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho, who has lost Zlatan Ibrahimovic to a knee injury. City had reportedly made a bid for the player last summer, which was thwarted by the Gunners, and will try again with a renewed bid this time around as well.

"All players that go there and start training with them realise immediately they cannot compete, they will always be below [Messi]. Even the big players that believe they are top, they go there and they understand. Messi is unique,"Guardiola said, as quoted by ESPN.

"But Alexis is just one step below, a fantastic player. I am so happy how he is playing there, especially this year, scoring goals and assists and so on. The quality means when Arsenal were tied -- free kick, goal. Good players make these kind of things, the difference. Alexis is a player of that level.''

"Put it that Kevin De Bruyne had one year left on his contract, see how many teams would have him. Normally the big players have two, three years [on a] contract.

"All the clubs in the summertime are going to try to improve. How do you improve the teams? Better players. Of course [people will watch] all the players around the world. Alexis is one of them. They are going to know his situation.''