Alexis SanchezGETTY

Alexis Sanchez is set to join Man Utd on a huge contract

The deal edged a step closer when Henrikh Mkhitaryan said his farewells to team-mates last night while his agent continued to negotiate a “golden goodbye” from Manchester United on top of a “golden hello” from the Gunners.

United have landed Sanchez after gazumping neighbours City by including a £25m signing-on fee in a four-and-a-half year contract that will see Sanchez become the Premier League’s highest-paid player on around £500,000 a week.

And Mourinho insists the eye-watering pay package is not a sign of desperation from a club 12 points adrift of City in the title race, but simply the case they could not afford to miss out on a player of such quality.

“The team is lacking nothing,” he said. “It is not the point that we are lacking something or we desperately need something. It is just thinking about the improvement of the team in the future.

“Normally I say the idea of the mid-season transfer market is to help clubs that didn’t work well in the previous summer. That’s why we don’t like to do business in January, because it shows we didn’t give our best, we didn’t try our best. That is not the case.

Jose Mourinho arrives at the Lowry as Alexis Sanchez transfer saga continues

Fri, January 19, 2018

Jose Mourinho has been snapped returning to the Lowry Hotel as he awaits news on a potential deal for Alexis Sanchez

Play slideshow Jose Mourinho Eamonn and James Clarke 1 of 7

Jose Mourinho has been snapped returning to the Lowry Hotel

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Henrikh MkhitaryanGETTY

Henrikh Mkhitaryan is set to move to Arsenal as part of the deal

We are sure it is good for the future of the team

Man Utd boss Jose Mourinho

“But if you have the chance to buy a special player in special circumstances – a player who you would try to buy in the summer anyway – then that’s a special situation and you try to do it. If it happens, we are sure it is good for the future of the team.”

Guardiola had made no secret of his admiration for Sanchez, who he bought for Barcelona in 2011 from Udinese, and had a £60m offer rejected by Arsenal last summer.

But despite the riches of Abu Dhabi owner Sheikh Mansour, Guardiola feels the forward’s wage demands could have caused a dressing-room rift among his title-chasers, and he backed the club’s stance to pull out of a deal for a player who would have become a free agent this summer.

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Alexis SanchezGETTY

Alexis Sanchez trained with Arsenal on Friday

“Normally we try to be stable with the wages of the players because it is good for the team and stability of the club,” said Guardiola.

“In my period at Barcelona, at Bayern Munich and now here I have never put pressure on a club when they say, ‘It is too much’. Immediately, I accept that decision and move forward to find another solution.

“The stability of the club is the most important thing. And we’ve spent a lot of money, I’m not denying it.”

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Jose MourinhoGETTY

Jose Mourinho has hit back at Pep Guardiola

Guardiola said it would have been a mistake for Sanchez to have joined City if his heart was not in the move.

“If they move and they are not completely committed, it is a mistake for the player, for the manager and for the club as well,” he added. “I respect the decision of the player. It’s not the first time in my career that I wanted a player and they decided to move on to another club.”

Meanwhile, Michael Carrick, 36, will call time on his playing career at the end of the season and has verbally accepted Mourinho’s offer to join his coaching staff.

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