Manchester City is standing firm in their stance on Arsenal striker Alexis Sanchez by saying they would rather walk away from any deal for the Chilean international than pay more than the £20million they are prepared to pay for him in this January transfer window.

Arsenal has long since said they will not accept less than £35million for Sanchez whose contract with the Gunners runs out at the end of this season.

Would be a huge coup for Utd

The stalemate has left the door ajar for City’s cross-town rivals Manchester United to sneak in after they declared their hand on Thursday saying they are prepared to pay the asking price plus they would throw in midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan as a possible makeweight in a deal.

For United if they were able to sneak in and prise Sanchez away from under the noses of their fierce rivals it would be a major coup for them.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger made it very clear the club would only sell Sanchez once they have found a replacement but the Frenchman also knows that if the striker is still at the Emirates Stadium once the window is over then they face losing the striker for nothing in the summer.

The situation is very delicate but it is looking increasingly likely that City, who have been after the player since last summer and indeed put in a £60million bid for him, face the very real prospect of losing a long-sought-after target to their biggest rivals.

Has the Sanchez saga split the Arsenal camp?

Since the saga erupted in the summer, the attitude of Sanchez has been brought into question by fans and the media alike and on several occasions, there appears to have been splits even amongst the Gunners players themselves.

One incident, in particular, caught many people’s eyes and it came after Sanchez actually scored for Arsenal during their 3-2 win at Crystal Palace in the Premier League in December.

When Sanchez wheeled away after scoring only three of this teammates came in and celebrated with him while the rest just calmly walked back to the centre-circle. For many, this signalled a rift in the Arsenal camp although it was later played down by those within the club. His continued presence has certainly split the fan base but it appears the vast majority are resigned to him leaving but that it must be on the club’s terms with a replacement brought in.

Lemar the priority target

The talk at the moment is that the number one priority to come in for Sanchez is the gifted Monaco midfielder, Thomas Lemar but the Gunners are facing very real competition for the Frenchman in the shape of Liverpool who see the 21-year-old as the ideal man to take over the reins from Philippe Coutinho who, of course, signed for Barcelona in a monster £142million deal on Monday.

It’s a saga that just goes on and on and it’s looking like one of those that will go right to the wire with matters coming to a head on the January 31 transfer day deadline and it will be interesting whether London or Manchester get the better of this episode.