ARSENAL have unveiled new signing Henrikh Mkhitaryan from Manchester United, with Alexis Sanchez going the other way while Manchester City and Crystal Palace have wrapped up done deals.
Meanwhile, Barcelona have shunted an outcast to Inter Milan in a Euro done deal.
ARSENAL, UNITED COMPLETE SWAP DEAL
Henrikh Mkhitaryan has completed his move to Arsenal as Alexis Sanchez moved the other way to Manchester United in a rare swap deal among two of England’s top teams.
The transfers of the 29-year-old players were announced simultaneously, with Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger saying Mkhitaryan was a “very complete player.”
“It’s a dream come true,” Mkhitaryan said, “because I’ve always dreamed of playing for Arsenal.”
DONE DEAL: United unveil Sanchez in monster $287m deal
BURNING QUESTIONS: Pogba’s $367m powerplay to sour Sanchez coup
No financial details were officially disclosed, but United said Mkhitaryan was joining as “part of the deal” to bring Sanchez to Old Trafford.
Signing Sanchez is being viewed as a real statement by United, like Eric Cantona joined in 1992 and Robin van Persie – who also arrived from Arsenal – in 2012.
“Alexis is one of the best attacking players in the world,” Mourinho said. “He will bring his ambition, drive and personality, qualities that make a Manchester United player, and a player that makes the team stronger and the supporters proud of their club dimension and prestige.”
Mkhitaryan moved to United from Borussia Dortmund, where he was the German league player of the year, but struggled to secure a regular place in the team under Mourinho except in the first few months of this season.
The Armenia international scored 23 goals and set up 32 more in his last season at Dortmund but failed to reproduce anything close to those numbers at United. With injuries affecting Mkhitaryan in his early months at United, Mourinho said the player needed time to adjust to the physicality and intensity of the Premier League.
He finished last season by scoring an acrobatic goal in United’s 2-0 win over Ajax in the Europa League final in Stockholm and began this season well, too, setting up five goals in his first three games.
Mkhitaryan has been a marginal figure at United in recent months, with Jesse Lingard starting ahead of him behind Lukaku. He has five goals in 39 league appearances for United, rarely completing 90 minutes.
The 29-year-old Mkhitaryan has previously said his favorite team was Arsenal and his impressive technique, allied with Wenger’s naturally attacking philosophy, should make him a good fit at the London club.
“He creates chances, he defends well, he can absorb distances and he’s very committed as well,” Wenger said. “I must say he’s a player who has all the attributes.”
Sanchez’s debut for United could come on Friday, in the FA Cup fourth-round match at fourth-tier Yeovil.
Mkhitaryan is cup-tied in that competition, so could make his debut against Swansea next week.
DE BRUYNE SIGNS CITY EXTENSION
Belgian playmaker Kevin De Bruyne has signed a contract extension with Manchester City keeping him at the club until 2023.
The 26-year-old attacking midfielder has been one of the stars of the season so far with City manager Pep Guardiola even describing him as “one of the best players” he’s ever seen.
“I am really happy to have signed this new deal,” De Bruyne, who joined the Citizens from Wolfsburg in 2015, told mancity.com.
“As I’ve said previously, my intention has always been to stay here at City, where I’ve felt at home from day one.
“Not only are we winning, we are playing great football. It’s a pleasure to be a part of and I’m really excited about what we can achieve in the coming years.”
De Bruyne has already contributed six goals and 10 assists in 24 matches this season with 31 goals from 122 appearances in total in the sky blue shirt.
City announced the contract extension at the same time that cross-town rivals Manchester United revealed they had signed Alexis Sanchez.
The Chile international came close to joining City in the close season only for Arsenal to pull the plug on the deal after failing to find a replacement.
He was then widely expected to head to the Etihad this month until City baulked at Arsenal’s asking price, leaving United to steal in and snatch Sanchez.
BARCA LOAN RAFINHA TO INTER
Barcelona midfielder Rafinha will join Inter Milan on loan until the end of the season with an option to buy, the Spanish club announced on Monday.
In a statement, Barcelona revealed Inter “have an option to purchase the player for 35 million euros plus 3 million euros in variables, which must be confirmed before the end of the current season”.
The 24-year-old Brazil international, who was out of action for eight months last year due to a knee injury, joined Barcelona aged 13 and rose through the ranks.
He has scored one goal in two games for the Selecao but injuries blighted his Barca first team chances.
He needed surgery and was out for more than six months after tearing a cruciate knee ligament against Roma at the end of 2015.
He then went under the knife again last year after suffering a meniscus injury against Granada in April.
CRYSTAL PALACE CONFIRM DONE DEAL
Finally, Premier League relegation battlers Crystal Palace have confirmed the arrival of Swedish Under-21 midfielder Erdal Rakip on loan from Benfica until the end of the season.
Rakip played 120 times for his local club Malmo before moving to Benfica this season, failing to make a first team appearance in the first half of the season.
“I believe this is a league that suits me and my way of playing,” he said. “It’s fast-paced and physically intense, and I’m a classic, balanced number 6; a box-to-box player who run up and down the field.
“I hope to adapt quickly in order to help the team and show my qualities – I have been training since the season ended and I feel fit and ready to play straight away.”
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