Manchester United simply had to go for Sanchez, says Denis Irwin

Players of the calibre of Alexis Sanchez do not become available very often, so Manchester United had no choice but to make a move for the Arsenal forward, former Ireland defender Denis Irwin has said ahead of the Chilean's expected move to Old Trafford.

The 29-year-old Sanchez, who is out of contract at the end of the season and was also a target for leaders Manchester City, missed Arsenal's 4-1 league win over Crystal Palace on Saturday.

British media reports say he will seal his move to United this week with Armenian midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan joining Arsenal in a swop deal.

"When a player of that ability comes along, I think you got to be in the market for him," Irwin, who played over 500 games for United during 12 trophy-laden seasons, told Reuters.

"He's a player who knows the Premier League, his goal record... he's an experienced international. He's quick, he's strong.

"It would be great if he comes to Manchester United because he would not just add to our squad but our team. He's a really good player and I think he will be a good addition, really good."

The Chile international has scored 80 goals in 166 appearances in all competitions for Arsenal since joining from Barcelona for £35 million (S$64.2m) in July 2014.

The 52-year-old Irwin, now working a United ambassador, was speaking in Mumbai as part of Gulf Oil's fan-building campaign for the club's supporters, who were invited to a live screening of the Premier League away fixture against Burnley on Saturday.

Irwin also lauded Jose Mourinho's ability to attract top players and said the Portuguese manager had done enough to warrant an extension to the three-year contract he signed in 2016.

"I feel we are lot more competitive that 16 months ago," said the former left back, who was one of Alex Ferguson's key players.

"For me, he's been fantastic. Two trophies last season, progression on the field, we are getting better and stronger, I don't see any reason why not (give him an extension)?" - REUTERS