Manchester United coach José Mourinho has admitted that it is possible that excluded winger Henrik Mkhitaryan could leave Old Trafford during the current window, with the Armenian believed to be part of a deal to bring Arsenal's Alexis Sánchez to the North West.
It is possible, but also possible he stays
The Chilean's imminent destination has been the dominating story across all outlets over the weekend with Sánchez being omitted from Arsenal's 2-1 defeat to Bournemouth, and The Red Devils becoming the front-runners for the 29-year-old's signature with Manchester City believed to have fallen out of the race.
It is expected to be a bumper deal especially for a player whose contract runs out in the summer, along with money it is believed that the Armenian will be used as leverage allowing him to opt out of his stuttering United career.
After a great start to the season, Mkhitaryan has fallen off in a big way which has seen him fall out of favour. Many fans would have expected him to start in Monday's clash with Stoke City but was omitted from the starting XI.
When pushed on his absence from the side Mourinho did admit that it would be a "lie" if the decision was purely tactical, and went further stating that it could be "possible" that Mkhitaryan would be making a move to The Emirates Stadium.
"He [Mkhitaryan] is a player that I like, of high quality," Mourinho stated in his post-match press conference on the Armenian's situation. "Is he going to be involved in one deal in leaving us? It's possible. But it's also possible that he stays."
"I'm just trying to protect him and the team, so let's make sure he stays with us or that he leaves us," the coach admitted. "The market is open."
"This season he started very well but has come a little bit down," Mourinho added. "Last season he did amazing things for us and helped us to win the Europa League, being one of the most important players, so let's see what is going to happen."
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Finish in the best possible position
With Pep Guardiola's side having tasted league defeat for the first time on Sunday with the 4-3 loss to Liverpool, an opportunity arose for United to shorten a seemingly uncatchable gap and with the visit of the struggling Potters under the watch of new manager Paul Lambert three points looked inevitable.
United put in an impressive performance after a week away in Dubai with goals from Antonio Valencia, Anthony Martial and Romelu Lukaku giving them the 3-0 victory, despite victory a 12-point gap still stands between the two Manchester clubs but Mourinho stated it doesn't matter about the "big" gap but about winning every match and finishing in the "best possible" position.
"I think the distance between first and second is still big," he conceded. "Distance that normally, the leader controls."
"I've been there before, you play without pressure, you play with confidence," the coach proclaimed. "You play with a tranquillity that you can slip and make a few errors no problem, so it's up to them [Manchester City] to keep the confidence and to control their destiny."
"But it doesn't matter what the points distance is to me," Mourinho concluded. "What matters is that every match we have to win and we have to try and finish in the best possible position."