Jose Mourinho believes there are some players in world football a club must sign when the chance arises, regardless of circumstances, amid claims Manchester United have stolen a march on Manchester City in pursuit of Alexis Sanchez.
A reunion between Sanchez and his former Barcelona boss Pep Guardiola at City has long been touted, with the Premier League leaders reported to have tabled a £20million for the Arsenal star, who is out of contract at the end of the season.
But stories broke ahead of Mourinho's Friday media briefing that City were unwilling to meet Arsenal's £35m asking price for Sanchez, opening up the prospect of a lucrative switch to Old Trafford for the Chile international.
The United boss was keen not to be drawn on specifics regarding a player he labelled as "phenomenal" but conceded there were times when his reluctance to engage in the January market must be abandoned.
"I don't know if it is ethical or correct to be speaking about players of other clubs," Mourinho told reporters ahead of Monday's Premier League meeting with managerless Stoke City.
"If someone speaks of one of my players to say they are interested or not interested I would not be very happy.
"Sanchez is an Arsenal player. I don't know, but probably this weekend he is going to defend Arsenal colours so I do not think it is correct to say thing about Alexis Sanchez.
"At the general level, I can tell you that myself and the Manchester United owners, we do not believe a lot in the January market. We do not believe in signing a player just to do something.
"We don't believe in that. What we believe really is that there are some players in the football world, if you have a chance to sign them, it doesn't matter if it is January, March or July. You have to try and that's it.
"In relation to Alexis Sanchez, I don't say a word. The only word I can say is the what everyone says - he is a phenomenal player. But he is an Arsenal player."
“Zlatan Ibrahimovic is injured, or is not totally happy with his condition,” Jose says. “The date for him to be back in training is around the end of January or the beginning of February, so let's hope his feelings are better and we have him as soon as possible.” #MUFC pic.twitter.com/K6q0q83pLb— Manchester United (@ManUtd) January 12, 2018
Another factor that could persuade Mourinho to seek attacking reinforcements this month is another fitness setback for Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
The veteran Swedish striker returned ahead of schedule from cruciate knee ligament surgery in November but has not featured since United's 2-2 Boxing Day draw against Burnley and is now likely to be out until next month.
"Zlatan Ibrahimovic is injured, or is not totally happy with his condition," Mourinho added.
"The date for him to be back in training is around the end of January or the beginning of February, so let's hope his feelings are better and we have him as soon as possible."
|Kovac hails ´special´ Sanches after Bayern goal|
|Marcelino: Tearful Ronaldo said he did nothing wrong|
|Fernandinho takes blame for Man City´s Lyon loss|
|Lovren denies any wrongdoing after perjury charge|
|Plzen boss Vrba slams late mistakes|
|I almost scored as many as Messi - Tagliafico the unlikely hero for Ajax|
|Ronaldo deserves Ballon d´Or not Modric, says Casemiro|
|United fan Rafael - I´ve never lost at City|
|Davis explains abrupt mid-game NFL retirement: ´Football is not for me´|
|Lopes pays tribute to under-fire Lyon coach Genesio|
|Toulon´s Bastareaud handed five-week ban|
|Steelers WR Brown disciplined for missing meeting|
|Arteta refuses to make excuses for Manchester City´s Lyon loss|
|Allegri calls for VAR after Ronaldo´s contentious red card|
|Championship Review: Boro go second, Birmingham still winless|
|Lopetegui: Mariano took his chance|
|Juventus proved their quality after Ronaldo red card - Bonucci|
|Pogba ´class´ impresses Mourinho|
|Man City not Champions League favourites, insists Bernardo Silva|
|Isco calls for Modric to win Ballon d´Or after Champions League win|
|Wawrinka into last eight in St Petersburg|
|Goal hero Pogba is one of the best in the world - Shaw|
|Sane SOS can´t salvage sorry City display|
|Hoffenheim will learn lessons from Shakhtar draw, insists Nagelsmann|
|Valencia 0 Juventus 2: Pjanic hits the spot after Ronaldo sees red|
|Viktoria Plzen 2 CSKA Moscow 2: Krmencik heroics undone by late show|
|Benfica 0 Bayern Munich 2: Sanches returns to haunt his former club|
|Young Boys 0 Manchester United 3: Pogba double inspires Red Devils|
|Manchester City 1 Lyon 2: Cornet and Fekir stun Champions League favourites at home|
|Real Madrid 3 Roma 0: Isco stunner sets up winning start for Champions League holders|
|Ronaldo sent off on Champions League debut for Juve and may miss United reunion|
|Shakhtar Donetsk 2 Hoffenheim 2: Maycon denies Nagelsmann´s side|
|Ajax 3 AEK Athens 0: Tagliafico at the double in opening win|
|Dalot makes debut, Martial starts for Manchester United|
|India avenge ICC Champions Trophy loss with big win over Pakistan|
|Ronaldo makes Champions League debut for Juve|
|Lopetegui picks Navas over Courtois for Champions League clash with Roma|
|Willian very happy under Sarri after Conte row|
|Sarri deals blow to Chelsea kids´ Europa League hopes|
|Mendy out for Manchester City as Aguero makes bench|
|Cech accepts performances key to securing Arsenal stay|
|Monchi rules out Spain return amid Barcelona rumours|
|Durham skittled for 61 and 66 on the same day|
|Kane isn´t a machine – Lamela defends misfiring Spurs star|
|Hazard left out of Chelsea squad for PAOK trip|
|Tiger feels close to ending drought after achieving Tour Championship goal|
|Leno in line for Arsenal chance in Europa League|
|Gazidis leaves Arsenal in good shape, insists Emery|
|Eagles bring back WR Matthews, place Wallace on IR|
|England include Stokes, Hales and uncapped seamer Stone in ODI squad|
|Suwon Bluewings 0 Jeonbuk Motors 3 (aet, 4-2 on penalties): Quarter-final comeback ends in spot-kick|
|Australia captain Paine ready to slog it out with Pakistan|
|Nadal pulls out of China Open & Shanghai Masters with knee injury|
|Ostapenko begins Korea Open defence with victory|
|Joshua v Povetkin: How Olympic super heavyweight champions have fared|
|Liverpool ´made a point´ with PSG victory - Gomez|
|Osaka wows Tokyo crowd on WTA return|
|Excited Povetkin arrives in England for Joshua showdown|
|Kovac patience with Sanches set to reap rewards|
|Kovac: Madrid strong without Ronaldo, Messi is the best|
|ATP suspends umpire Lahyani over Kyrgios ´pep talk´ at US Open|
|North and South Korea seek to co-host 2032 Olympics|
|Ampadu signs long-term Chelsea contract|
|Don´t blame Neymar, PSG players all guilty - Thiago Silva|
|Real Madrid seek to plug Ronaldo scoring gap – Champions League in Opta numbers|
|Brewers allow Cardinals to inch closer with loss to Reds|
|Manchester is still red – Depay ahead of Lyon´s clash with City|
|Orioles become first pro team to wear braille jerseys|
|Klopp hails ´brilliant´ Henderson|
|PSG attack lacked aggression, says Tuchel|