HENRIKH MKHITARYAN will have to accept defeat in his battle to woo the Stretford End, before deciding to join Arsenal.
The Armenian holds the key to the future of Alexis Sanchez's move in the other direction, while the Gunners are poised to sign Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang.
Mkhitaryan's agent, Mino Raiola, has been answering the phone to journalists and attempting to big-up his client's worth – and down-play the fact that United just want to get rid of him.
The 28-year-old has a deal until 2020 at Old Trafford that Raiola hashed out in his golden summer 18 months ago, when his clients Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Paul Pogba also moved to United for big-money deals.
But Mkhitaryan has had to stomach the fact that his 45-minute cameo against Derby County in the FA Cup will be his last in a United shirt though, just days after his woeful performance against Southampton.
Meanwhile Sanchez has simply had to wait patiently for one of United, City or Chelsea to come in for him in a cut-price deal.
Manchester City shelved any plans to bring him on board when Pep Guardiola had a meeting with the board and decided against upsetting the current wage structure at the club by signing the Chilean.
Sanchez would be exactly the sort of player who would fit in at City, but fans have been at pains to question where he would fit in and who he would replace in the starting line-up.
That is more obvious at United – although the Red Devils have two players on the left wing themselves, it points to a more liberal approach from Jose Mourinho in the final third.
Raiola said yesterday: "This is a great deal for Arsenal. They need better, younger players and they have to invest.
"So it's up to Arsenal to put a deal in place and right now a deal is a long way off.
Why Pep Guardiola wanted to avoid a repeat of Tino Asprilla to Newcastle
PEP GUARDIOLA was never convinced about the merit of signing his former Barcelona favourite Sanchez in the middle of the season.
Yes, he wanted him badly last summer – making a £60 million bid for him.
And he'd have been over the moon to land him on a free transfer in June.
But the City boss had expressed his concerns over a January swoop privately to the Etihad hierarchy in the weeks leading up to Christmas.
He had told chairman Khaldoon al Mubarak, chief exec Ferran Soriano and director of football Txiki Begiristain why he was not comfortable with the idea.
That the arrival of the temperamental Chilean on huge wages could put too many noses out of joint among his players at a vital stage of the season.
Making a high-profile signing when your team is romping away at the top of the table can be viewed as a statement – or the final piece of the jigsaw.
However it can also rock the boat – and unsettle a squad who have been outstanding for the first half of the season.
Just ask Newcastle fans – who still have nightmares about the arrival of the enigmatic Colombian Tino Asprilla back in February 1996.
READ MARTIN BLACKBURN'S TAKE ON MAN CITY'S SANCHEZ SAGA IN FULL
"Manchester United are not going to sign Sanchez unless Mkhi agrees to join Arsenal.
"Mkhi's problems at Man Utd are purely related to playing football. He has no problem with the manager, it's not personal.
"Mkhi has not decided yet . He's going to do what's best for him. He has a 2½ years left on his contract. He doesn't have to leave."
Meanwhile the Gunners are set to land badboy Borussia Dortmund striker Aubameyang, who the German club have run out of patience with.
Nine-year-old interview reveals Henrikh Mkhitaryan is an Arsenal fan
HENRIKH MKHITARYAN has shocked Manchester United fans after it emerged he is a long-term Arsenal supporter.
The Old Trafford attacking midfielder is set for a switch to the Emirates after 18 ill-fated months at United.
But an interview has emerged on Uefa's website from 2009 that has quotes from the former Shakhtar Donetsk and Borussia Dortmund man admitting he is a Gunner by choice.
He said: "My favourite team is Arsenal.
"I like their attacking play and fast style. Moreover, Arsene Wenger puts faith in young players while demanding results at the same time.
"I like that and want to play there one day."
Mkhitaryan played against Arsenal in 2010 while playing for Shakhtar Donetsk and scored for Borussia Dortmund against the Gunners in 2013.
The Gabon international wanted to leave the Westfalenstadion at the end of last season but after his third official club suspension, the Bundesliga giants appear ready to cut their losses and move on.
Gunners fans might question whether they are just getting rid of one negative influence on the dressing room and replacing him with another.
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