Arsenal’s pursuit of Henrikh Mkhitaryan hinges on whether the attacker is paid off by Manchester United due to his contract running for another two years, Goal understands.
The Gunners are hopeful of securing Mkhitaryan as part of a deal which will see Alexis Sanchez move the other way, although neither club are prepared to sanction the transfer unless the Armenia international agrees to join Arsene Wenger’s side this month.
Mkhitaryan's agent Mino Raiola, who has already met with Arsenal officials at the club's London Colney training ground this week, is also determined to secure a fee for himself as part of his involvement in brokering the deal.
Arsenal are requesting a flat fee of £35 million for Alexis, and Raiola says Mkhitaryan will play a pivotal role in the outcome of their negotiations with United.
"Manchester United are not going to sign Sanchez unless Mkhi agrees to join Arsenal," Raiola told The Times.
"Mkhi is going to do what is best for him. He has two-and-a-half years left on his contract, so it's his decision."
Raiola emphasised his opinion that Mkhitaryan is the centre-piece of the transfer talks, not the Arsenal forward.
"Sanchez is part of the Mkhi deal, not the other way around," he added.
Alexis has been the subject of a transfer tussle between United and Manchester City but, with the latter pulling out due to the demands of the Chilean’s agent Fernando Felicevich, the frontrunners to sign last season’s 30-goal man are now Jose Mourinho’s men, with the former Barcelona star already agreeing personal terms.
Meanwhile, Wenger’s January transfer activity is likely to be affected by the Premier League Short Term Cost Control (STCC) rules which came into play at the start of the season.
The new rules mean that teams can only increase their wage bill by £7m above what it was last season. Arsenal’s struggle to add to the signings of Alexandre Lacazette and Sead Kolasinac last summer was partly because of their failure to offload fringe players on high salaries. Wenger’s side had a wage bill of £191m two seasons ago, according to the most recent club accounts available via Companies House. It is one reason why Arsenal needed to ship out Theo Walcott, Francis Coquelin and Sanchez before bringing replacements in.
Coquelin joined Valencia for a fee in the region of £12m last week, while Walcott is on the verge of joining Everton for £20m. Mathieu Debuchy, meanwhile, is in talks over signing with St Etienne six months before his contract expires, which would free up further wage space for Bordeaux star Malcom, the 20-year-old winger Arsenal are keen on signing in January.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang remains a primary target of Wenger’s and new head of recruitment Sven Mislintat is playing an integral part in the talks which could see the 28-year-old arrive as a replacement for Sanchez. Olivier Giroud has been mentioned in discussions and it remains a possibility that he would head to Borussia Dortmund as part of the deal.
Former Dortmund head scout Mislintat was heavily involved in Arsenal’s first signing of January, the 20-year-old Greek defender Konstantinos Mavropanos, and is again involved in talks for both Aubameyang and Mkhitaryan.
West Brom defender Jonny Evans is the subject of interest from both Manchester City and Arsenal, with the Gunners also hopeful of bringing in an experienced centre-back this month due to Laurent Koscielny’s injury problems and Per Mertesacker’s impending retirement.
A defensive arrival would likely see one of Calum Chambers or Rob Holding go out on loan.