Manchester United are prepared to make Alexis Sanchez the Premier League’s first £350,000-a-week player — with boss Jose Mourinho planning to pay for it by sacrificing summer bids for Antoine Griezmann and Gareth Bale.
Sanchez, 29, is in line to become the most expensive footballer in England with both United and Manchester City involved in a tug-of-war for the Arsenal player’s services.
City have told the Chilean if he waits until the summer he would be able to pocket almost £70million in wages — double Arsenal’s transfer valuation.
But Mourinho is ready to give Sanchez an even more mouth-watering salary immediately — that City are not minded to match — and pay Arsenal a £30m transfer fee rather than force the player to let the last six months of his contract run out at the Emirates.
Sanchez’s representatives are understood to have been told about Mourinho’s superior offer.
The United manager has complained recently about his lack of spending power compared to City but last night he moved quickly to assure executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward that he would not be greedy and demand more marquee signings in the summer should they land Sanchez.
He said: ‘If there is a fantastic opportunity on the table, you fight for that fantastic opportunity.
‘Normally we would try to improve our squad in the summer and try to make every department stronger. If you do something now, we don’t do it in again in the summer.
‘Let’s say in the summer we have three targets — a defender, a midfielder and an attacking player. If in the winter you do one of the three, then in the summer you do three minus one.’
Mourinho’s comments underline a confidence inside United that they have at least a fighting chance to ‘steal’ Sanchez, even though he has been expecting to play under Pep Guardiola.
United have long been linked with French striker Griezmann who plays for Atletico Madrid, and Real Madrid’s Welsh wizard Bale. But signing Sanchez to partner Romelu Lukaku would spell the end of those pursuits. It would also dispel any notion of Cristiano Ronaldo ever returning to Old Trafford.
City’s historic problems with Financial Fair Play rules mean they are wary of what they can pay for Sanchez this month.
They won’t offer Arsenal more than £20m and know at the end of the season they can offload other players like Sergio Aguero, Yaya Toure and Eliaquim Managala to give Sanchez the deal he wants.
The former Barcelona star views his wage packet as a key factor in his next move and expects to be offered more than the £290,000-a-week earned by the Premier League’s current highest-paid player, United’s Paul Pogba.
Mourinho, who wants to sell Henrikh Mkhitaryan this month to part-finance the Sanchez deal, does not think the title race will be affected by the transfer, regardless of where the Arsenal player ends up this month.
City are 15 points ahead of United, who play at home to Stoke tomorrow night.
‘I don’t think the title race is about what happens in this (transfer) market,’ said Mourinho. ‘It’s a very important difference of points. I’ve been there before. It gives a lot of tranquility.’