Manuel Pellegrini admits he could not sign Alexis Sanchez for Manchester City because of Financial Fair Play punishments.
The Arsenal man signed for the Gunners from Barcelona in the summer of 2014 for £35m, and has since been a roaring success at the Emirates.
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And Pellegrini, who left Manchester City in the summer to be replaced by Pep Guardiola, said the club were punished by UEFA for breaching FFP rules, and did not have space in the squad for him.
"He was one of the best in the world and he showed it every day," Pellegrini told Chilean radio station ADN. "He was a major player we wanted to take to City.
"We could not take him before he signed for Arsenal, it was because the club was punished for Financial Fair Play. I did not have the space in the squad for him.
"Alexis is a complete winner and hopefully he will remain a force for a number of years."
City were found guilty of breaching FFP guidelines in 2014, and were fined over £16m, facing limits on spending and squad size.
They signed Eliaquim Mangala, Willy Caballero, Fernando and Bacary Sagna that summer.