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Chelsea win fight over land purchase for Stamford Bridge redevelopment

Chelsea win fight over land purchase for Stamford Bridge redevelopment


Manchester City have pulled out of the race to sign Arsenal forward Alexis Sanchez, sources have told ESPN FC.

Pep Guardiola held talks on Monday with City hierarchy -- Chairman Khaldoon al Mubarak, chief executive Ferran Soriano and director of football Txiki Begiristain -- and all agreed to decide to end the pursuit of Sanchez, the sources said. 

Manchester United now appear to be favourites to sign the 29-year-old Chilean, though sources say his agent has now opened talks with other clubs.

Arsenal are believed to want around £35 million for Sanchez, who is out of contract at the end of the season.

City were close to signing him on deadline day in August, until the Gunners pulled the plug on a £55m deal when their plans to sign a replacement fell through.

But sources said they now consider the package being demanded means he could end up costing more than that the deal agreed in the summer.

The Premier League leaders had been prepared to wait until the summer to sign Sanchez with City believed to be the players' preferred destination. However, sources said he is desperate to leave the Emirates Stadium in this transfer window.

But sources also said City did not see him as a crucial signing and that they are happy with the balance of the squad and not prepared to take any chances on upsetting a side that is 12 points clear at the top of the Premier League and still competing in three cup competitions.

City have been also boosted by news that striker Gabriel Jesus could be back in the next few weeks after recovering from a knee injury.

Jonathan is ESPN FC's Manchester City correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @jonnysmiffy.

LONDON -- Chelsea's stadium project overcame a significant hurdle on Monday as Hammersmith and Fulham Council agreed to give themselves the power to compulsorily purchase the land at the centre of a "right to light" dispute.

The Crosthwaites family took out an injunction against the redevelopment of Stamford Bridge, claiming the new 60,000-seater stadium will severely reduce the amount of natural light on their property, where they have lived for 50 years.

But the council on Monday swiftly and unanimously agreed to the recommendation set out by head of planning and regeneration John Finlayson at a meeting at Hammersmith Town Hall that buying the land adjacent to the Crosthwaites' property and leasing it back to Chelsea was necessary to allow beneficial regeneration of the area.

Only one councillor, cabinet member for housing Lisa Homan, recused herself from the vote as she is a Chelsea season-ticket holder.

No one spoke on behalf of the Crosthwaites or Chelsea on the issue and there were no additional comments before the remaining councillors declared their agreement to the compulsory purchase.

Chelsea asked the council to intervene after the Crosthwaites reportedly turned down a six-figure compensation offer from the club and took out the injunction in May.

The Crosthwaites' "right to light" dispute with Chelsea, which dates to 2015, will now transfer to the council and once the compulsory purchase is completed the injunction will be invalidated. This is unlikely to be the end of the matter, however, as the family still have legal avenues open to them -- including the possibility of asking for a judicial review.

Chelsea's proposed redevelopment of Stamford Bridge received planning approval a year ago and has also been given the green light by mayor of London Sadiq Khan, but the project has since encountered spiralling costs and delays and the club claimed that work could not proceed as long as the injunction remained in place.

The Crosthwaites, whose property actually falls within the neighbouring borough of Kensington and Chelsea, claimed that Chelsea could end the dispute by revising their plans and scaling back "the disproportionate amount of hospitality seating" in the proposed stadium.

They also believe that the club's successful attempt to sidestep the injunction with the help of Hammersmith and Fulham is not in the public interest and possibly even illegal.

Barring any further legal or logistical delays, Chelsea expect to have to play away from Stamford Bridge for as many as four years while the old stadium and the surrounding buildings are demolished and the new arena is constructed, and hope to return in time for the start of the 2024-25 season.

Liam is ESPN FC's Chelsea correspondent. Follow him on Twitter: @Liam_Twomey.