Squad must be trimmed before Jose Mourinho can sign such a costly free agent and £30m buy isn’t even making his bench
Jose Mourinho is ready to offload Henrikh Mkhitaryan in the summer — to pave the way for the signing of Mesut Ozil as his replacement.
Manchester United boss Mourinho is targeting Arsenal midfielder Ozil, who is out of contract at the end of the season, but knows he has to trim his squad before he can bring in a player on the sort of mega-contract the German will command as a free agent.
Mourinho has already been publicly critical of Mkhitaryan, accusing him of “disappearing” in games, and admitted this week that he no longer has space for the Armenia international even on his subs’ bench.
That could be the final straw for a player who joined United from Borussia Dortmund for £30m in summer 2016.
The Old Trafford giants would be confident of getting their money back, despite the 28-year-old’s patchy form.
Mkhitaryan has struggled to make an impact at United — who also have Juan Mata, which could make it difficult for Mourinho to justify bringing in another No10.
Arsenal have already offered Ozil, in excellent form over the past few weeks, £275,000-a-week to re-sign and have not given up on persuading him to stay but are struggling to reach an agreement.
Mourinho worked with him for three years at Real Madrid when he described him as the best No10 in the world.
It would also surely give him satisfaction if he can sign one of bitter rival Arsene Wenger’s best players, on a free.
Barcelona are also keen on Ozil, 29, but there is a growing belief that United could be his destination and their players are beginning to gossip among themselves that they think he will join next summer.
The Germany stalwart, 29, also knows he will be able to command a bigger deal as a free agent in the summer than if he was to be sold in the looming January window.
Wenger has previously admitted he could be tempted to sell Ozil or striker Alexis Sanchez next month but United are unlikely to move for him then.
They would rather wait until he is a free agent.