Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has revealed that Alexis Sanchez's move to Manchester United will not hurt as much as Robin van Persie's departure in 2012 as the fans had warmed to the idea that he was not going to sign a new contract and would have anyway left the club on a free in the summer.
Negotiations are on the verge of being completed on a swap deal that will make Sanchez the highest-paid player in Premier League history and will see Henrikh Mkhitaryan move in the opposite direction from United to Arsenal. Sanchez was left out of the Gunners squad against Bournemouth last weekend anticipating a deal to be completed but was delayed owing to problems regarding the swap.
However, the manager confirmed that a deal is likely to be struck sooner rather than later, bringing back memories of the Dutchman's departure in the summer of 2012 which won United the title. The north London club failed to properly replace the striker which resulted in backlash from fans.
However, in this case, the Arsenal manager expects the arrival of Mkhitaryan to offset the impact of losing his Chilean star, and believes the Gunners faithful will be fine with the deal the clubs have struck.
"Our fans know Alexis will not extend - they have accepted that idea and the fact it will not be one-way traffic," said Wenger, as quoted by the Telegraph. "It will be other-way traffic as well and that makes the whole thing a bit smoother, maybe a bit less disappointing. We lose a player, yes, but we could gain another player. I think one would replace the other."
"We took Van Persie when he played in the reserve team at Feyenoord. We made a long work with him. When you get them there and, after they leave, that is the most painful."
It is not expected that Mkhitaryan's move to Arsenal will be finalised in time for him to face Crystal Palace and his debut for his new club could be delayed further as he is cup-tied for the Carabao Cup semi-final second leg against Chelsea next week.
"Yes it is likely to happen," Wenger told reporters when asked on if Sanchez's transfer couldd happen before their game against Crystal Palace this Saturday, per The Mirror. "But any minute things can break down. That's how the transfer market is. These things are never guaranteed."