Manchester City have made Arsenal a bid of Raheem Sterling plus cash in exchange for Alexis Sanchez in an extraordinary offer – with Arsene Wenger’s men also asking about the availability of Sergio Aguero.
It comes as Sanchez asks to leave the Chile national team camp in order to sort out his club future, according to reports in the South American country.
City are determined to sign Sanchez before Thursday’s transfer deadline and have been linked with the Chilean forward all summer, while Sterling is said to be keen on the move.
Arsenal are desperate to keep Sanchez, who has one year left on his contract, leading City to make this unexpected and unprecedented offer.
The Gunners will not let their star man go without a player in exchange so close to Thursday’s transfer deadline and have asked City about a move for Aguero.
The Argentine hitman is disillusioned under Pep Guardiola but a move for Sterling is more likely at this point.
Sanchez meanwhile has formally told national team coach Juan Antonio Pizzi he would like to skip training on Wednesday in the build up to their 2018 World Cup qualifier against Paraguay, according to Chilean broadcaster T13.
Chile play on Thursday – transfer deadline day – but Sanchez has reportedly told Pizzi he does not want to be selected in order to sort out his club football future.
City would prefer a straight cash deal as they pursue Sanchez, but are willing to compromise and would fly to Chile to sort out personal terms and the medical, if Pizzi does not allow his star player to leave the camp.
It shows City’s determination to sign Sanchez that they have raised their offer to this level and including Sterling, who has begun the season in good form.
The England international – currently with Gareth Southgate’s squad for qualifiers against Malta and Slovakia – has scored two crucial goals already in the Premier League – the late equaliser at home to Everton and an even later winner at Bournemouth.
However City’s surplus of attacking players, including Sergio Aguero, Gabriel Jesus and new signing Bernardo Silva, mean Sterling’s playing time could be limited in a World Cup year, and he may feel he would get more chances in London, where he grew up, with Arsenal.
Sanchez meanwhile played for the first time for Arsenal this season on Sunday following an extended summer break. Arsenal lost 4-0 at Liverpool, with Sanchez being subbed off midway through the second half and appearing to smirk as he sat on the bench.
Sanchez has declined to enter contract talks at Arsenal, despite being offered deals of up to £300,000 per week.
However Wenger has been confident of keeping Sanchez all summer and has refused to entertain any bids or talk of him leaving. The pair were seen deep in conversation during a walk through Liverpool before the game.
He already looks set to lose another first team player, with a £35m bid from Chelsea accepted for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain.
The news comes amid growing criticism of Arsenal after the defeat at Anfield, with several former players unhappy with events at the club.
Speaking to Sportsmail, former Arsenal captain and City midfielder Patrick Vieira called Sanchez a ‘leader’, but said there was not enough ‘strength’ at the Emirates Stadium