Alexis Sanchez is set to join Manchester United for a big wage packet. Photo: EPA

MANCHESTER Pep Guardiola has suggested Manchester City gave up on trying to sign Alexis Sanchez because of the player's high wage demands.

Sanchez looked set to leave Arsenal for the Etihad Stadium until Premier League leaders City ended their pursuit on Monday, leaving the way clear for second-placed Manchester United to move in.

The Chile forward has agreed a four-and-a-half year contract at Old Trafford, worth a reported basic weekly wage of £365,000 ($506,000, 414,000 euros) with image rights and bonuses taking that above £500,000.

City's highest-earning players, by comparison, are on around £220,000 a week, and Guardiola did not feel that offering a significantly higher wage to a new signing would benefit the squad as a whole.

It is understood the City manager was also unsure about bringing in Sanchez, whom he worked with at Barcelona, mid-season; having failed to secure a deal last August he would have preferred to wait until the summer, when the player's Arsenal contract was set to expire.

"In my time at Barcelona, my time at Bayern Munich and now here, I never pushed the club to say I want those players when the club believes and says that the price is too much," Guardiola said Friday.

"I respect that decision and I move forward to look for another solution because the stability of the club is the most important thing."

Guardiola, whose table-toppers play Newcastle on Saturday, has spent heavily in reshaping City's squad since his arrival from Bayern in July 2016.

Last summer alone, he spent more than £200 million on five players, with around £120 million of that going on three full-backs, in Kyle Walker, Benjamin Mendy and Danilo.

City's Premier League rivals have also been willing to pay significant sums for high-quality players, though, with Liverpool buying centre-back Virgil van Dijk from Southampton for £75 million earlier this month, and Manchester United paying £89 million for Paul Pogba at the start of last season.

Guardiola thinks Paris Saint-Germain's world-record £198 million signing of Neymar from Barcelona last August set the bar for the current transfer market.

"We have spent a lot of money, I'm not denying it," he said. "The problem is we had to spend a lot to change the oldest squad in the Premier League. That doesn't happen in one transfer window. We needed more time.

"Normally we try to be stable with the wages of the players because I think it is good for the team and stability of the club.

"It's £50 million today but years ago it was £20 million. In the past, what the club did, was at that price. Maybe in the future more clubs will spend more than £100 million on one player, like some teams already have. I think the prices next summer will be higher than this winter."

City remain stretched in attack, with Sergio Aguero their only fit senior centre forward as Gabriel Jesus continues to recover from knee ligament damage.

Guardiola, though, has no intention of trying to sign another out-and-out striker, saying Raheem Sterling can move in from the wing if needed, as he did when City won 2-1 at Manchester United in December.

"We have the two strikers and we do not need another one in that position," the City boss explained. "Other players can play there in different circumstances. To buy a striker who can only play there: that is not going to happen.

"Raheem can play there. He did at Old Trafford and in the United States in pre-season. 

"He showed me that he can handle that pressure without problems. He's more of a winger, a No 10, but we are not going to buy a striker."

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