Forward Alexis Sanchez will leave Arsenal in January if a suitable offer arrives and a replacement is secured.
It is understood the Gunners hierarchy have privately accepted for some weeks that Sanchez is likely to depart after three and a half years at the club.
However, Arsenal are reluctant to sell without replacing the Chilean and their first choice is Bordeaux’s 20-year-old Brazilian forward Malcom.
Manchester City is 29-year-old Sanchez’s most probable destination.
Conversations have been held between the clubs but there is as yet no agreement on a fee.
Arsenal are thought to have asked for up to £35m, with Premier League leaders City initially suggesting they would pay around £20m. Sources anticipate a compromise of between £25m and £30m.
It is also widely reported that Manchester United will rival City’s interest and have already made a bid.
If a deal cannot be agreed, Sanchez will be able to leave when his contract expires in the summer – a situation Arsenal are keen to avoid as they would receive nothing.
The Chile international almost joined City for about £60m on the final day of the summer transfer window, only for the switch to collapse when Arsenal failed to sign Monaco and France midfielder Thomas Lemar.
|Sanchez’s time at Arsenal|
|July 2014 – joins Arsenal for £35m from Barcelona on a four-year deal, despite interest from Liverpool and Juventus|
|May 2015 – finishes the season as Arsenal’s top scorer with 25 goals, including a goal in the FA Cup final win over Aston Villa|
|May 2016 – finishes season with 17 goals, despite missing over a month with a hamstring injury, but the Gunners fail to win a trophy|
|May 2017 – top scores for Arsenal again, with 30, as they win the FA Cup but fail to qualify for the Champions League|
|August 2017 – agrees a £55m move to Manchester City, but Arsenal cancel the deal when they fail to sign Thomas Lemar to replace him|
|January 2018 – after the forward scores eight goals in the first half of the season, City again consider signing him with six months left on his deal|
‘It would be a coup for United over City’
Former Manchester United defender Phil Neville said Sanchez would be an “absolutely unbelievable signing” for the Old Trafford club.
Responding to reports that said a £25m bid had already been made, he told Sky Sports: “If you look back at Manchester United’s big signings over the decades, Eric Cantona came out of the hat, [Robin] van Persie was a surprise – and they both helped United win titles.
“I think this could have a similar impact. He’s got the character to play at Old Trafford,” the ex-England international added.
“It would be a coup, particularly for United fans, to have a player like Sanchez come to them over City. It would be a strong statement.
“It’s pretty obvious he’s not going to stay at Arsenal. I think if United were going to buy him, £25m would be an absolute snip.”