Belfast Telegraph

Manchester United joined by Chelsea in Sanchez race


Main man: Antonio Valencia wheels away to celebrate with United team-mate Romelu Lukaku after scoring
Main man: Antonio Valencia wheels away to celebrate with United team-mate Romelu Lukaku after scoring

By Liam Blackburn

Manchester United will have to fight off a challenge from Chelsea to land their transfer target Alexis Sanchez after Manchester City ended their interest in the Arsenal ace.

United, who recorded a comfortable 3-0 victory over Stoke last night, are favourites to net the Gunners forward after City did not want to commit to the transfer fee and wages for a player who is out of contract in the summer.

"Probably there are other clubs also interested," said United boss Jose Mourinho after goals from Antonio Valencia, Anthony Martial and Romelu Lukaku sunk Stoke.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan, who has been mentioned as a potential make-weight with Arsenal in any Sanchez deal, wasn't in the United squad and Mourinho admitted that the Armenian's absence was down to "doubts about his future".

Mourinho added: "I have no idea about the latest on any transfer move for Sanchez. He is an Arsenal player, if he stays it's great for Arsenal, if he comes to us, great for us, if he goes to another club, great for them.

"He (Mkhitaryan) is our player so I can speak about him. He has a lot to offer us. Is he going to be leaving us? It is possible. The market is open.

"Stoke bought players to play football, they were not afraid to play and they created problems in the first half.

"I didn't watch Liverpool beat Manchester City, it doesn't change anything. The distance is an important distance, I have been there before. They have their destiny in their hands."

Midfielder Paul Pogba, the man of the match, said: "We are playing very well at the moment, I am forward more and have more freedom to attack.

"Our performance was very positive. I can use my ability more, my power, I can shoot and make assists. It suits me more.

"Man City are in front of us, we always want to catch them, it was good that they lost but we have to think about ourselves. We have to win games, we have lost a lot of points.

"We're not looking to the past. We're just looking to the future.

"We just want to catch City. We just have to focus on ourselves, keep winning and I think we will be okay."

After yesterday's announcement that Paul Lambert will be the new Stoke manager, Potters captain Darren Fletcher said: "A new manager does give players a lift, it's a clean slate for everyone. We are fighting for our lives, we are in a relegation battle.

"I played with Paul Lambert on my Scotland debut which makes me feel old, he has done good jobs in difficult circumstances in the Premier League. I think we have a good manager."

Lambert's Premier League experience and his knowledge of the Stoke squad convinced the club's owners he was the man to replace Mark Hughes.

After failing to persuade Derby's Gary Rowett, Espanyol's Quique Sanchez Flores and Republic of Ireland boss Martin O'Neill to take the job, the Potters settled on Lambert.

The 48-year-old, who has signed a two-and-half-year contract, has previously managed in the top flight with Norwich and Aston Villa and in the Championship with Blackburn and Wolves.

"Paul greatly impressed us with his knowledge of our squad and had a clear plan of how he would improve our results," said chairman Peter Coates.

"He's a man who backed himself as a player, none more so than when he turned down contract offers in Scotland to go on trial in the German Bundesliga with Borussia Dortmund, and it's obvious he adopts the same approach as a manager."

Lambert will be presented at a press conference at the bet365 Stadium today but was in the Old Trafford directors' box to watch his new side against Manchester United last night.

Hughes was sacked 10 days ago after an FA Cup exit to League Two side Coventry and with them mired in the Premier League relegation zone.

Belfast Telegraph


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