Jose Mourinho told Manchester United fans that Henrikh Mkhitaryan would “probably” start in tonight’s match against Stoke.
"Mkhitaryan played the last match in the FA Cup and probably will play the next one,” Mourinho said, per Sky Sports.
"He is our player and a very good player. So Saturday [he is] training, then Sunday [he is] selected and Monday [he will] play."
And yet, when Man United’s squad for the encounter was revealed an hour before the 8pm kick-off, Mkhitaryan’s name was nowhere in sight.
Not in the starting line-up. Not on the bench, Nowhere.
Mourinho would go on to explain the Armenian’s absence and it’s only fuelled speculation that he will be used in an offer for Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez.
Mourinho on Mkhitaryan's absence
“I would be lying if I say it’s a pure tactical decision,” the Portuguese said.
"It was just a choice of the players that we know, in this moment, they have 100 per cent their heads in Manchester United.
"No doubts about the future. I don't think it's easy for a player to play when there are doubts about his future. It's added pressure that a player doesn't need, so I think it's the best for him and for us, while the doubt is in the air, to protect him."
Man United supporters have reacted
Man United supporters have a more concrete explanation about what Mkhitaryan’s absence means. They are now certain that the playmaker is on the way out, with Sanchez’s arrival imminent.
It’s hard to see otherwise, to be honest. Sanchez was excluded from Arsenal’s squad in their 2-1 defeat at Bournemouth on Sunday, suggesting a deal is very, very close to completion.
Manchester City had been the favourites to sign the Chilean but, according to The Times, the Premier League leaders have baulked after discovering his £350,000-per-week wage demands.
That would make Sanchez a higher earner than many stars in Pep Guardiola’s squad, including Kevin De Bruyne, and City fear it could cause unrest.
Sanchez is 29-years-old and Guardiola already has a number of talented attackers, so it’s easy to see why they’re set to pull out of a move.
Although rivals Man United will become stronger should they complete a move for the former Barcelona star.
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