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Jose Mourinho has admitted Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s absence from the Manchester United squad against Stoke is because the Armenian’s future is up in the air, amid speculation he could be part of the deal to bring Alexis Sanchez to Old Trafford.

Mkhitaryan was with the United squad on Monday afternoon after Mourinho insisted at his news conference on Friday that the 28-year-old would be involved against Stoke.

But he was left out of the squad and Mourinho revealed it was because there are “doubts” about the midfielder’s future.

“I would lie if I said it was a pure tactical decision,” he told Sky Sports. “It’s just a choice of players that we know at this moment have 100 percent their heads in Manchester United and no doubts about the future.

“It is not easy for a player to play when there are doubts about his future. Best for him, best for us.”

Mkhitaryan has been mentioned as a possible makeweight in the deal to sign Sanchez, who is set to leave Arsenal this month.

ESPN reports Arsenal asked United about Anthony Martial’s availability, but that the enquiry was dismissed out of hand before the Gunners turned their attention to Mkhitaryan.

Mkhitaryan joined United from Borussia Dortmund in a £26 million move 18 months ago but has started just two of the last 15 games.

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