Jose Mourinho says Manchester United are ‘not confident but not unconfident’ of signing Alexis Sanchez

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Manchester United believe they are close to signing Alexis Sanchez – after local rivals Manchester City pulled out of the race to sign him.

Despite Chelsea making a late bid to land Sanchez, United remain confident they have sealed a £35million deal for the Arsenal forward, with Henrikh Mkhitaryan likely to go the other way.

United celebrated their imminent acquisition of Sanchez by beating Stoke 3-0 to move to within 12 points of Premier League leaders City, although Mourinho remained non-committal on the deal to land the Chile star.

“I’m not confident but I’m also not unconfident,” said Mourinho. “Just relaxed.

We have the feeling he’s an Arsenal player. He can stay there, but also a feeling he can move and, if he moves, I think we have a chance.

“But most probably, a player like him has other big clubs interested, so who knows?

“I think him, Mr Wenger, Mr Gazidis, they’re the ones who know what’s going to happen.

“If Sanchez stays, it’s great for Arsenal, if he comes to us, great for us, if he goes to another club, great for them.”

Mkhitaryan, who joined United 18 months ago for £27m, was left out of Mourinho’s squad last night with the midfielder set to be included as part of the Sanchez deal.

“I didn’t select him because I wanted players fully focused and I understand that with so much talk and speculation it’s not easy for him to play at home,” said Mourinho.

“So I prefer to protect him and the situation. If he stays here, he’s a very good player that started the season very well and came a little bit down, but last season did amazing things for us.

“It’s a pity the market closes on January 31, maybe if it closed tomorrow we could finish with everything.”

City claimed they pulled out because the cost would exceed the £60m fee they were prepared to pay ­Arsenal for him last summer,

With a £35m transfer fee ­involving Mkhitaryan as part of the deal, a signing-on fee of around £20m for Sanchez and an agent’s fee of up to £10m, City deemed the cost too much, with the former Barcelona man also demanding £300,000-a-week.

Antonio Valencia set Mourinho on his way to an emphatic win, ­before goals from Anthony Martial and Romelu Lukaku sealed the points.

The result gave new Stoke boss Paul Lambert, watching from the stands, an idea of the size of the task he faces trying to keep them up.

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