Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has claimed they had "no chance" of keeping Alexis Sanchez and suggested the forward is chasing money by joining Manchester United.
The 29-year-old is expected to finalise his move to Old Trafford in the next 48 hours after apparently undergoing a medical on Sunday, with Henrikh Mkhitaryan heading to the Gunners in a straight swap deal.
Reports in England have said Sanchez could earn as much as £450,000 a week at United as part of a salary package that even Manchester City refused to match, despite their long-standing interest in the player.
Wenger says he "cannot understand" the decision of a player to leave the Emirates Stadium but believes the money on offer ultimately proved too tempting for the Chile international, who was in the last six months of his Gunners deal.
85 - Since his debut in August 2014, only Harry Kane (108) & Sergio Agüero (100) have had a hand in more Premier League goals than Alexis Sánchez (85 - 60 goals, 25 assists). Omitted. #BOUARS pic.twitter.com/zVma0TtF5r— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) January 14, 2018
"I cannot understand anybody wanting to leave Arsenal. But, in 30 years of doing transfers, you learn a lot about human beings," Wenger said.
"As a professional, it was perhaps his last contract at the top level and an important contract. After that, I accept that because we accepted that we would let him go. After that, we analyse the pros and the cons.
"We did what we tried to do and went as far as we could. Even Manchester City moved out of it in the end. That tells you we had no chance to give him a contract.
"We have tried to find the best possible solution and the best possible solution is that we lose a world class player – I don't deny that at all – but we did not lose him without getting somebody after. The future will tell if it was the right decision or not.
"It is not that we are only losing a player, we are gaining a player as well. And we are still active in the transfer market and trying to bring players in."
Wenger also admitted the uncertainty over Sanchez's future has taken its toll on the rest of the squad this season.
"There are periods when the atmosphere is less enjoyable than others," he said. "It is the lack of clarity. It is not losing players – teams are used to losing players. But it is the fact that you have uncertainty in the group – that they don’t know if he will be here or not.
"Once it is clear, the team gets used to it."
Never give up !!! pic.twitter.com/aKG6gNCpTV— Alexandre Lacazette (@LacazetteAlex) January 20, 2018
With Mkhitaryan arriving and a pursuit of Borussia Dortmund striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in progress, Arsenal could end the transfer window in a strong position despite the loss of Sanchez.
Questions have been raised about how Aubameyang will fit into the side alongside record signing Alexandre Lacazette, but Wenger appears to have no such concerns.
"How do I fit them in? I just play the good players. They can always play together," he said.
|Thiem regains Argentina Open title|
|Stoger makes Dortmund history with Gladbach win|
|Championship Review: Leeds fight back for point, Norwich & Ipswich share derby spoils|
|Racing beat La Rochelle to go second, Castres edge out Bordeaux|
|Borussia Monchengladbach 0 Borussia Dortmund 1: Burki unbeatable as Reus returns to haunt Foals|
|FA Cup ´magic´ no surprise to Pochettino after Rochdale thriller|
|Rochdale hero Davies: This is every kid´s dream|
|Atletico Madrid will not stop in pursuit of Barcelona, promises Gameiro|
|Banks boot pays dividends for Treviso|
|Lucky 13 and second successive title for Kvitova after Muguruza classic|
|´Wrong image´ to blame for VAR confusion in Manchester United´s FA Cup win|
|Rochdale 2 Tottenham 2: Davies denies Kane in FA Cup classic|
|Rieder stretchered off as Wasps extend Chiefs´ slump|
|Atletico Madrid 2 Athletic Bilbao 0: Gameiro and Costa settle cagey clash|
|NHL commissioner Bettman condemns ´reprehensible´ Smith-Pelly abuse|
|Visser, Scott and Nel among six recalled by Scotland|
|Bhuvneshwar and Dhawan inspire India´s Wanderers win|
|Napoli set club record with another Serie A win|
|Froome disappoints in time trial as Wellens wins Ruta del Sol|
|Napoli 1 SPAL 0: Allan sends hosts top of Serie A again|
|Federer makes short work of disappointing Dimitrov|
|Allegri allays Higuain injury fears|
|Blackhawks fans ejected after racist heckling of Capitals´ Smith-Pelly|
|Allegri convinced Juve can get past Spurs|
|Sri Lanka sweep series after dominating Bangladesh|
|Everton fear ´long-term´ injury for Mangala|
|If it isn´t Madrid, it´s Paris - Hazard tires of speculation|
|Luiten claims Oman Open title|
|Torino 0 Juventus 1: Champions win derby but lose Higuain|
|Neymar exit made Barcelona stronger - Ter Stegen|
|Remove T20 cricket from international schedule - Bayliss|
|Injured Higuain forced off against Torino|
|Jesus confident of returning strong after knee injury|
|DeGale launches Twitter attack on beaten Eubank Jr|
|We had to change hotels – Ovrebo recalls fury after 2009 Chelsea-Barcelona semi-final|
|Spalletti: Inter board will decide my future|
|Munro blitz helps Black Caps progress despite defeat|
|Fabregas still wary of timeless Iniesta|
|Liverpool´s 30-goal hero Salah: There´s more to come|
|Valverde: Coutinho dropped for the good of Barcelona|
|Garcia floors Rios for ninth-round TKO|
|Ronaldo better than Neymar? No says Xavi|
|Donovan Mitchell caps NBA All-Star challenges with dunk success|
|Anderson outlasts Nishikori to reach New York Open final|
|Steve Nash, Ray Allen among Basketball Hall of Fame finalists|
|Kevin Love: It was necessary to clean house in Cleveland|
|Real Madrid hurt you with nothing – Xavi says PSG loss an injustice|
|Conte: Chelsea need perfect game to stop Messi and Barcelona|
|LeBron James thanks Ingraham as Cavs All-Star vows to speak his mind|
|Archer says Rays could have best rotation in baseball|
|Bubba Watson takes lead with 65 at Genesis Open|
|Inter in a fragile moment, says Spalletti|
|Groves batters Eubank Jr to retain WBA crown|
|Montpellier see off plucky Oyonnax, Ashton stars in Stade mauling|
|Booed Emery praises PSG´s mental strength|
|Cavani hails ´good reaction´ as PSG bounce back in style|
|Thiem breezes past Monfils to set up Bedene showdown|
|Mourinho wants referees to have final say on VAR|
|Genoa 2 Inter 0: Pandev piles misery on old employers|
|Manchester United to host Brighton in FA Cup quarter-finals|
|Leinster see off Scarlets as Munster come up short in Cardiff|
|New No.1 Federer earns gritty Seppi win to book Rotterdam final|
|Mata ´still up for VAR´ despite disallowed goal at Huddersfield|
|Valverde: Barcelona had to suffer at Eibar|
|Championship Review: Fulham end Villa run, Cardiff pounce|
|Resilient Kvitova ousts Wozniacki in Doha thriller|
|Huddersfield Town 0 Manchester United 2: Lukaku sends visitors through after VAR controversy|
|Toomua inspires Tigers win over Quins, Worcester beat Gloucester|
|Bayern Munich boss Heynckes hails game-changing Muller|
|Locadia benefiting from ´competitive´ Brighton - Hughton|