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."
|Ronaldo a ´perfect machine´, says Gattuso|
|Barcelona? I can´t say anything - Stuani|
|Silva upbeat about Man City title chances|
|Celtics youngsters say Irving´s callout ´came from a good place´|
|NFL playoffs: Patrick Mahomes v Tom Brady|
|NFL playoffs: Jared Goff v Drew Brees|
|Sixers sign Brewer to 10-day contract|
|Lozano and Morgan scoop CONCACAF awards|
|Lakers ´optimistic´ about LeBron injury|
|Giants produce mammoth fourth quarter against Nymburk|
|Austin FC to join MLS in 2021|
|Henry, Vieira look forward to reunion when Monaco host Nice|
|Barcelona reject Neymar phone call reports|
|Wentz is the quarterback ´going forward´, says Eagles coach Pederson|
|Gattuso: Higuain has not asked to leave|
|Drew Brees by the Opta numbers: 10 facts for QB´s milestone birthday|
|Harry Kane injury: England captain´s history of ankle woe|
|Harry Kane injury: Opta numbers suggest Spurs struggles|
|Harry Kane injury: Tottenham´s options in striker´s absence|
|Allegri: Supercoppa clash practice for Champions League knockouts|
|First in clean sheets, second to Schmeichel in titles – Cech´s Premier League career in Opta numbers|
|Warrington sign England star Widdop|
|Gatland confident Wales can win Six Nations|
|Fulham sign Netherlands international Babel|
|Harry Kane injury: Games the Tottenham striker will miss|
|Simeone focused on matches, not transfer dealings|
|Iran v Iraq: Pressure off for Queiroz & Katanec|
|Vietnam v Yemen: Kocian keeps the faith|
|Darren Bravo back in West Indies Test side for first time since 2016|
|Kane out until March with ankle injury|
|South Korea v China: Son arrives for Group C dead rubber|
|Kyrgyzstan v Philippines: Eriksson remains hopeful|
|McGrath to miss Six Nations, Sexton nearing fitness|
|Kohli savours Dhoni ´classic´|
|Ford: People obsess over Farrell fly-half battle|
|EFL asks Leeds to explain ´spygate´ scandal|
|No alarms for Djokovic and Zverev, Raonic masters Kyrgios|
|Australia 3 Syria 2: Rogic breaks hearts with stoppage-time winner|
|Palestine 0 Jordan 0: Socceroos winner keeps hopes alive for Lions of Canaan|
|Halep: The results don´t matter any more|
|Hard work for Halep as Serena and Osaka sail through|
|Napoli director to take legal action over ´false´ quotes about Rog move|
|Alexander-Arnold facing absence of up to four weeks|
|Solari: We only have one number nine at Real Madrid|
|Halfpenny & Young named in Wales´ Six Nations squad|
|Crawford v Khan confirmed for April 20|
|Centurion Kohli inspires India to level ODI series|
|Wagner hails Huddersfield togetherness after exit|
|Hughes to join Bristol, Le Roux also leaving Wasps|
|ICC appoints Sawhney as new CEO|
|Forest appoint club legend O´Neill as new manager|
|Halep digs deep to gain revenge over Kanepi|
|Cech to retire at the end of the season|
|Brisbane Roar 0 Melbourne Victory 5: Barbarouses treble sinks Roar|
|´Struggling´ Azarenka breaks down in tears following Australian Open exit|
|Dominant Djokovic coasts through in Melbourne|
|Allardyce admits Huddersfield appointment is ´highly unlikley´|
|Choupo-Mouting: Manchester United have changed|
|Faletau set to miss Six Nations with another broken arm|
|UEFA opens disciplinary proceedings into Chelsea chants|
|Serena´s the greatest ever - Bouchard relishing second-round clash|
|Mbappe can become the new Pele - Pele|
|Wade needs to learn quickly if he´s to make NFL switch a success, says Sanu|
|Azarenka beaten in first Australian Open match since 2016|
|Kings use balanced scoring attack to top Trail Blazers|
|Hewitt laughs off Tomic criticism|
|We love Ederson the way he is - Guardiola on Man City´s sweeper keeper|
|Serena: The greatest win of my career|
|Salah will be motivated by criticism – Henderson|
|He was always going to be good – Surprise 2005 Challenger loss wasn´t stopping Murray|