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Surprisingly candid Wenger says Alexis transfer “likely,” Mkhitaryan swap possible

Arsene Wenger, famously coy about potential player transfers, was candid and even chatty with the press today about the fates of Alexis Sanchez and Henrikh Mkhitaryan.

Arsenal Training Session Photo by Stuart MacFarlane/Arsenal FC via Getty Images

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has a reputation for playing it very close to the vest when it comes to transfers. Any revelations he does provide are usually very sparse and potentially unreliable. Everything he says could be true, but everything he says could likewise be posturing for bargaining purposes. Nowadays, any time he cheekily smiles when speaking to a journalist, folks tend to think that we’re secretly signing two Messis and a time-traveling Pele in his prime.

All of this is to say: take this with a grain of salt.

Speaking to the press today, the Frenchman reversed course on his usually reserved and secretive tendencies and was quite open and candid when asked about the potential for a transfer of Chilean international Alexis Sanchez, with Armenian international Henrikh Mkhitaryan coming the other way.

The boss revealed that Alexis was left out of the squad for last weekend’s defeat to AFC Bournemouth because Wenger believed the transfer would happen before that match. Even at that point, Wenger told the press, the transfer was “already quite advanced.”

Despite saying that he had “not a lot to add” to all the media talk of the potential transfer, Wenger went on to say that the transfer is “likely to happen.” As usual, he hedged by responding affirmatively when asked if the transfer is still at the “maybe, maybe not” stage, and by saying that “at any minute, things can break down.” Still, the boss’s evaluation that the transfer is likely speaks volumes.

The press also inquired about whether Mkhitaryan would come the other way in any deal, and Wenger responded, “That is my understanding, yes.” He also said directly that he likes Mkhitaryan, that Mkhitaryan likes Arsenal, and that wages would not be a problem.

As was widely reported at the time, Wenger also seemed to confirm that the reason Arsenal did not sell Alexis in the summer is because the club could not bring in a replacement in time. “I would have done it,” Wenger said, “but [bringing in a replacement] was not possible as it happened very late on the last day of the transfer market and that’s why it didn’t happen.”

The dot com has more on questions about wages and competition with the money of the biggest clubs in the Premier League.

Wenger continues to insist that Arsenal not sell Alexis unless a replacement is coming, so Arsenal fans can take heart that if Alexis goes, we will very likely see others coming in.