Pep Guardiola has admitted that Manchester United were bound to sign Alexis Sanchez in the coming days, congratulating Jose Mourinho on completing the deal.
The Chile international, having come close to joining Manchester City in the summer, looked set to finally reunite with Guardiola this month.
But Man United swooped in with an improved offer, tabling a package comprising of better wages and Henrikh Mkhitaryan, to pinch Sanchez from the Premier League leaders.
And Guardiola, when asked about Sanchez, noted that he believed he was close to becoming a United player – something we wouldn’t have even imagined just two weeks ago.
The main topic right now may well be Conte vs Mourinho but United getting one over on his long term nemesis Guardiola is certainly a big deal for him.
This is the first blow United have managed to land on Man City this season – unless you count Mikel Arteta getting smacked in the face with a bottle – and you can’t help but feel as if this swoop was set in motion by Mourinho’s thinly veiled attack on the club’s board back in December for a lack of ambition in the market in comparison with their neighbours, who have signed 17 players since both managers arrived compared to seven at Old Trafford.
A response on the pitch this season is unlikely. There are 15 games left and City need to have four days like the one against Liverpool, along with United winning every game, to make this title race interesting.
In a way, then, signing Sanchez is the only way to announce to City that United are still there, refusing to die down, and indeed looking towards a further onslaught over the summer.