Arsenal handed transfer boost as Jose Mourinho leaves 13-goal winger out of squad

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has confirmed that Henrikh Mkhitaryan was left out of the matchday squad versus Stoke City courtesy of the transfer speculation revolving around his future. The Armenia international is apparently the subject of interest from Arsenal, who are prepared to sign him in a proposed deal which could see Alexis Sanchez move the other way.

Earlier on Friday, the Portuguese tactician cited that Mkhitaryan would feature versus the Potters, but the 54-year-old eventually opted against picking the Armenian with the recent gossip. When asked about Mkhitaryan’s absence, Mourinho told Sky Sports: “I would lie if I said it was just a pure tactical decision. It was just a choice of the players that we know, that in this moment, they have 100 per cent their heads in Manchester United, and no doubts about the future.

“I don’t think it’s easy for a player to play when there are doubts about his future. It’s an added pressure that a player doesn’t need, so I think it’s the best for him and for us, while the doubt is in the air, to protect him.”

Mkhitaryan is reported to have been offered in a part-exchange deal for Gunners contract rebel Alexis Sanchez, but according to Chilean outlet Emol Deportes, the 28-year-old is not ‘very enthralled’ by the proposed switch.

With the Gunners not in the best of shape, Mkhitaryan is reluctant to play for a club, who may not feature in the Champions League next term, whilst the north London side are unlikely to match the attacker’s current wages of around £200,000-a-week.

Mkhitaryan joined the Red Devils from Borussia Dortmund last summer with the reputation of being a genuine goalscoring winger, but he has not quite maintained his consistency at Old Trafford with just 13 goals in over 18 months at the club.

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