Arsenal forward Alexis Sanchez will turn down Real Madrid’s advances to join Manchester City, either in January or at the end of the season.
Florentino Perez, the 12-time European champions’ president, has reportedly made the Chilean one of his priority targets as the Spanish giants look to bolster their attacking options after selling Alvaro Morata to Chelsea this summer.
Real Madrid have also considered Bayern Munich’s striker Robert Lewandowski and Borussia Dortmund forward Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, but Sanchez is the preferred option as he could arrive for a cut-price deal in January or as a free agent next summer.
However, the 28-year-old remains determined to move to the Etihad instead and be reunited with Pep Guardiola, whom he played under during his spell at Barcelona, after his move to Manchester City collapsed on deadline day.
According to the Mirror, City are supremely confident of landing the Chilean either during the winter transfer window or at the end of the season after sources close to the player have reiterated he has long decided to move to Manchester.
For their part, Arsenal are widely understood to have accepted Sanchez will not sign a new deal at the Emirates. Arsene Wenger is prepared to let the Chilean leave for free at the end of the season instead of selling him in January, as he believes Sanchez could help the Gunners to reclaim a Champions League spot.
Sanchez could make his first league start since his failed deadline day move against Chelsea on Sunday (17 September), after playing the full 90 minutes and scoring a decisive goal as Arsenal beat Cologne 3-1 in their Europa League opener on Thursday.
Meanwhile, Wenger does not believe Chelsea will have any physical advantage over his team ahead of their trip to Stamford Bridge, despite having 48 hours extra rest after thumping Qarabag 6-0 in their Champions League opener on Tuesday night.
“In three days I feel we can recover and overall that should not be a problem,” Wenger said.
“I have a squad of 25 players of top level. There is no hierarchy in there. [Chelsea’s physical advantage] doesn’t bother me what is the problem is us to focus on our performance and play our game.
“I have to see how he [Sanchez] recovers an decide afterwards with all the players but he will be with us at Chelsea.”
Arsenal have had the better of their London rivals in last season’s FA Cup final and in the Community Shield earlier this term but have lost on each of their last five trips to Stamford Bridge in the Premier League.