Eric Bailly from Manchester United to Arsenal 'impossible' in January - source

Arsenal's approach to sign Eric Bailly on loan this month has been rejected by Manchester United, with a source close to the player telling ESPN FC it is "impossible" for the defender to move to the Emirates in January.

Unai Emery is desperate to add to his squad this month but has said Arsenal can only afford loan deals. The club have further been rocked by news that Sven Mislintat, the club's head of recruitment, will leave next month.

Emery had targeted Bailly but United have rejected the approach out of hand and have no plans to do more business with a Premier League rival. A year ago this week, United and Arsenal swapped Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Alexis Sanchez, though both players have struggled for form for their respective sides in the 12 months since.

Bailly, meanwhile, is in a state of flux at Old Trafford. He fell out of favour under Jose Mourinho but has also struggled since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer arrived as caretaker manager. Bailly was sent off during United's 4-1 win over Bournemouth on Dec. 30 and was only on the bench for the 2-1 win over Brighton on Jan. 19. He has started just one match in Solskjaer's seven-game winning streak as boss.

Sources have told ESPN FC that AC Milan are also keen on the 24-year-old, who joined for £30 million under Mourinho in 2016. Bailly's contract at Old Trafford expires in 2020 although the club have the option of a two-year extension. As Arsenal's bid for Bailly also included a permanent transfer clause, Emery could revisit the move in the summer. Sources have told ESPN FC that Emery is a fan of Bailly having watched his development at Espanyol and Villarreal during his time as Sevilla coach.

The Arsenal boss has defensive issues of his own, with Rob Holding and Hector Bellerin both ruled out for the rest of the season after rupturing knee ligaments.

Arsenal face Manchester United in the FA Cup fourth round on Jan. 25 and are fourth in the Premier League table, level on points with Solskjaer's side in fifth.