Neil Humphreys: Pep and Wenger look like losers for planned Sanchez-Sterling swop
Sanchez-Sterling swop plan will be daftest deal of the season if it goes through
If the Alexis Sanchez-Raheem Sterling swop deal goes through, football historians will refer to it as the turning point.
This was the moment when any semblance of sanity was lost. This was the transfer that confirmed beyond all reasonable doubt that the English Premier League had more money than sense.
This was the decision that confirmed Arsene Wenger's demise and shattered the aura that surrounds Pep Guardiola.
Manchester City supporters are slowly pulling back the curtain to reveal not a wizard, but a mere manager frantically pushing buttons on a contraption worth £400 million (S$700m)and wondering why the machine isn't working.
That's the amount that the club have already spent during the Spaniard's tenure to establish a mercurial squad still in search of an identity.
A £400m investment in a billion-dollar squad really should buy more than a lucky win at Bournemouth and a scrappy draw at home to Everton.
Guardiola's interviews already walk a fine line between irascible and irritating, showcasing a frustrated coach who cannot work out why his pieces aren't slotting into place as they did so successfully in Munich and Barcelona.
His latest claim, surprisingly enough, involved Sterling.
The 22-year-old has scored twice in three EPL games.
But, after Sterling's heroics at Bournemouth, Guardiola insisted there was nothing he could teach the young Englishman.
Perhaps he was being playful, but the City coach did admit that he is only getting the best out of Sterling now because he's pushed him into his favoured inside-left position.
The Gunners’ current line-up remains spineless. They are in the market for a pair of centre backs, a holding midfielder and a long-term replacement for Mesut Oezil. (Raheem) Sterling ticks none of those boxes.
Guardiola forced Sterling into a wider position last season, often leaving him isolated and uninvolved, which was a curious decision at the time.
Sterling's evolution was very much part of Guardiola's job description.
The king of the Catalans had earned a reputation for incubating promising talent at Barcelona and was expected to play master to Sterling's apprentice.
But the winger has never quite replicated his sparkling invention at Anfield, despite City paying £49m to prise him away from Liverpool.
In two years, Sterling has gone from a record transfer fee to a makeweight in a reported swop deal.
That cannot reflect well on Guardiola.
Nor does it reflect well on Wenger that apoplectic Arsenal supporters have clogged the airwaves of sports radio shows across the UK.
The general consensus in north London is clear. The Gunners don't want Sterling.
Or, more specifically, they don't want another Theo Walcott, another Hector Bellerin or another Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain; those Wenger archetypes that occasionally flatter, but no longer deceive.
Arsenal fans are already irate that Wenger inexplicably dropped his new signings Alexandre Lacazette and Sead Kolasinac at Anfield last Sunday and essentially sent out the first XI that failed him last season.
A creature of habit, the intransigent Frenchman risks outright anarchy if he signs the same player again.
Sanchez's performance against Liverpool was as wretched as it was unprofessional and the Chilean is obviously engineering his exit, which leaves Wenger with an unpalatable dilemma.
He either sells a disgruntled player to an EPL rival or he's lumbered with a sulking high-earner running down the final year of his contract.
But, for the sake of his club - and perhaps to stave off a mutiny at the Emirates - Wenger must be more creative than Sterling.
Ask for more money or a different player. Be cheeky and poach John Stones. Nip in for Leroy Sane or even grab Yaya Toure to hold the fort for one more season, but try something different at least.
The Gunners' current line-up remains spineless. They are in the market for a pair of centre backs, a holding midfielder and a long-term replacement for Mesut Oezil.
Sterling ticks none of those boxes. Instead, he represents that nifty, diminutive, lightweight jack in the box who occasionally pops up, but frequently hides away in a corner.
Wenger was supposedly going to move away from players like Sterling and turn towards rugged types like Nemanja Matic and N'Golo Kante, men who really matter in the modern, pressing game.
But he can't seem to help himself.
Guardiola was supposedly going to mould Sterling into the kind of intelligent, creative impresario that once sauntered across the Nou Camp.
But the former wunderkind may end up being the one that got away.
Still, if Guardiola loses Sterling, he'll at least gain Sanchez.
Wenger, on the other hand, risks losing whatever credibility he's got left.