According to David Ornstein at the BBC, the deal between Arsenal and Manchester United to transfer Alexis Sanchez and Henrikh Mkhitaryan is a simple trade without any cash considerations:
EXCLUSIVE: Manchester United midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan agrees move to Arsenal in a deal that will see Gunners forward Alexis Sanchez go opposite way. It’s a straight swap, no money involved. Paperwork complete, Mkhitaryan will undergo a medical over the next 2 days #MUFC #AFC— David Ornstein (@bbcsport_david) January 20, 2018
This information conflicts with earlier reports that Manchester United were sending £20 million along with the Armenian attacker, and from an Arsenal perspective, it’s a little disappointing given what we thought we knew. Looking at it even in the abstract, where Alexis either leaves for a free in the summer and Arsenal get nothing, or Arsenal get something—anything—now, it’s still a little disappointing. Mkhitaryan is a fine player, but one would hard pressed to find anyone who would say a straight swap had Arsenal coming out on top.
But it’s the price the club will have paid for letting Alexis’ contract wind down. All one can do now is welcome Mkhitaryan with open arms and have him get down to business alongside Mesut Özil. It’s not 20 million and a good player, but he’s still a good player, and there is work to be done.