Wenger: Sanchez exit won't hurt like Van Persie

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is not expecting the same backlash he received for selling Robin van Persie as Alexis Sanchez nears an exit.

Arsenal forward Alexis Sanchez is reportedly close to joining Manchester United   -  Getty Images

Arsene Wenger believes Arsenal fans will not mourn the departure of Alexis Sanchez as much as they did when Robin van Persie was sold to Premier League rival Manchester United.

Van Persie angered supporters when he swapped Arsenal for United in 2012 and Chile international forward Sanchez is tipped to follow the same path.

Soon-to-be free agent Sanchez – out of contract at the end of the season – is reportedly nearing a move to Old Trafford, with United playmaker Henrikh Mkhitaryan set to go the opposite way.

READ: Sanchez-Mkhitaryan deal close, says Wenger

"I would say that our fans today know that Sanchez will not extend his contract, and they have accepted that idea," Wenger said.

"And the fact that it will not be one-way traffic, it will be other-way traffic as well [with Mkhitaryan], so that makes the whole thing a bit smoother maybe, a bit less disappointing. We lose a player yes, but we could gain another player of top level as well.

READ: Mkhitaryan key to United-Sanchez deal, claims Raiola

"When it was with Van Persie it was a similar case, in the fact that he had only one year to go. Maybe it was the first case where the big players, Van Persie was one of the first cases where a big player didn't extend his contract and came close to the end of his contract.

READ: Wenger rules out Ozil sale as talks continue over Wilshere deal

"That will happen more and more. Because we arrive at a level where the money at stake for players who are free is so big, and the transfers are so big, that the players think 'it's better I go to the end of my contract, and if I don't get the whole integrity of the transfer now, if I get only half, it's a huge amount of money."

Wenger added: "We took Van Persie when he played in the reserve team at Feyenoord and we [put in] long work with him. And when you get them there to the level and after they leave, of course that is the most painful.

READ: Talking Point: Could Zaha replace Sanchez at Arsenal?

"After, that they do well for the other club -- you know that they will do well. But most of the time it's after long, patient work that you have done with the players. ... You forget that Man United had already a very strong team [when Van Persie left], and they have as well a very strong team now. So was it him on his own that made a difference? I don't know, but he was a great player, Van Persie."

Arsenal welcomes Crystal Palace to the Emirates Stadium on Saturday, while United is on the road against Burnley.

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