Arsenal manager Arsène Wenger has admitted that they have lost a world class player in Alexis Sánchez, as the Chilean completed his swap deal to Manchester United on Monday.
Going to a great club with a great contract
Wednesday's Carabao Cup clash will be the first clash for Arsenal following life after Sánchez, after the Chilean's drawn-out transfer saga was brought to an end on Monday when he signed on the dotted line for The Red Devils.
Many had Manchester City as the likely destination for the 29-year-old but United's bumper contract and the offering of Henrikh Mkhitaryan proved to be enough, and the 29-year-old is expected to earn quite the pretty penny during his four-and-a-half year deal.
Sánchez admitted that it has been his dream to play for United having joined Paul Pogba as one of the club's highest earners, and Wenger admitted that The Gunners did lose but also gained a world class player in Mkhitaryan.
“Overall we lose a world-class player," Wenger admitted in his Carabao Cup semi-final press conference. "And gain a world-class player.”
“I think he goes to a great club and has a great contract," the coach stated. "You can understand it when a professional player can combine both aspects."
“He is 29 years old, it is maybe his last contract," the Frenchman admitted. "Financially it’s important. He could combine both. He’s going to a great club."
“Sanchez is a great guy and has always been committed," Wenger added. "He is a guy who loves football. When he’s on the football pitch he gives his all.”
Need to get on the pitch and play
Mkhitaryan was only at the Theatre of Dreams for just over a year but won the hearts of the United faithful, with Armenian a crucial cog in the success of José Mourinho's first season in charge.
The 29-year-old came from Borussia Dortmund in the summer of 2016 with a great reputation and after a shaky start he asserted himself in Mourinho's starting XI, and it is in the Europa League where he shone scoring six goals on the way to their European triumph.
However, despite a good start to the current campaign, the Armenian fell out of contention with the Portuguese coach which ultimately led to his departure, and following his move to The Emirates Stadium he paid tribute to his former club and fans.
"I would like to say a heartfelt thank you to Manchester United players and staff, and especially the fans for your love, passion and support," he said in his statement. "I enjoyed having the honour of contributing to the history of your great club by winning the Europa League."
"I will always cherish the memory of that moment and that match," the Armenian highlighted. "And of my Boxing Day scorpion kick and of hearing the song “Whoa Mkhitaryan...” every time I stepped onto the pitch."
"I could name many more memories," the 29-year-old proclaimed. "I enjoyed every moment we shared and cheered together."
"At this stage of my career, I simply have to enjoy myself on the pitch and play," Mkhitaryan concluded. "Thank you from the bottom of my heart and the best of luck to all of you! Life goes on."