Alexis Sanchez's future is expected to be resolved within the next 48 hours, according to Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger.
Manchester City and Manchester United have both been heavily linked with a move to sign Alexis in January and the Chile international was left out of the matchday squad as the Gunners lost 2-1 away to Bournemouth in the Premier League on Sunday.
Speaking after the game, Wenger also claimed that a replacement would be signed if Alexis joined either City or United within the next two days, but was non-committal on links with Bordeaux star Malcom.
"It will be decided in the next 48 hours," said Wenger. "It was difficult for him because he was on standby a little bit.
"If Sanchez goes we need to replace him. When you looked at today we missed many players and you see that they have a big weight in the team.
"Will he go or not? I don't know. At the moment it's the transfer window and in this period we try to use the players who are focused on the club."
Wenger added: "Alexis would have played but it’s a difficult period for him. He has always been committed until now. He could have moved yesterday, today – that’s why I decided not to do it [play him]."
Goal reported on Saturday that Alexis’s family has arrived in London in preparation for his departure in the transfer window.
It’s understood that the former Barcelona man has his heart set on a move to the Etihad Stadium, where he would link up with his old coach Pep Guardiola.
Arsenal are demanding £35 million for Alexis while the player's agent Fernando Felicevich, previously dubbed ‘the king of South American football’ by Forbes magazine, is requesting a fee of £5m for facilitating the transfer.
City have made it known that they are unwilling to meet Felicevich's personal demands, believing the total package requested by the agent and Arsenal does not represent value for money.
But Goal understands that, while the club insist they are willing to walk away from a deal this month, potentially leaving United with a clear run, the Premier League leaders would rather find an agreement that suits all parties and sign the Alexis before the transfer window closes.
Meanwhile, Wenger insisted the absence of playmaker Mesut Ozil, who is also out of contract at the end of the season, was due to injury and not because the Germany international is also close to leaving.
And the Frenchman stressed the Gunners are not on the verge of sealing a move for Brazilian forward Malcom from Bordeaux.
"There's nothing concrete there," he said. "It's better that I don't come out on any specific name."