Ever since his failure to sign a new deal at the Emirates in the summer and the strong links with Manchester City which didn’t eventually materialize during the transfer window, it has been up in the air all season if Arsenal will try to cash in on him during the January window and get whatever little he can still command or allow the Chilean run out the final year of his contract and leave for free at the close of the season.
Performances this season on the field have not really been inspiring for the star forward who scored the most goals and assists for the club last season as he has been inconsistent, openly expressed frustration with the speculations seemingly a distraction that has taken a tow on his game. With only 8 goals scored so far this season and Arsenal lying 6th on the table, five points behind local rivals Tottenham Hotspur and 8 points outside a Champions league spot, it only makes sense that the club is now willing to do business in this window seeing as they will be letting go of a player who is seemingly no longer willing to fight for the club and may have a negative effect in the dressing room, while they focus their attention on convincing Mesut Ozil who has rolled back the years and showing his brilliance once again.
So no sooner had the January window opened, that the speculations resurfaced. Manchester City had a striker concern following the injury to Gabriel Jesus with the early diagnosis uncertain leaving Sergio Aguero as the only recognized striker in the squad and with the team still in all four competitions, they looked again in Sanchez direction and it was expected that this time the deal will finally go through. For a while Manchester City seemed like his only suitor, but rumor soon began to surface that neighbors Manchester United have shown interest in the deal and as it is with the silly nature of the transfer window, the rumors soon began to grow flesh. Chelsea also came into the mix showing interest in the player with manager Antonio Conte expressing his admiration for the Chilean. Alexis Sanchez soon became the beautiful bride attracting the top three sides in the league.
What the deal is supposedly worth
As the impending transfer of Alexis Sanchez from Arsenal to Manchester United looms closer with every passing minute, numbers have been bandied around and despite the market being inflated with average qualities like Virgil Van Dijk, Moussa Dembele and Phil Countinho having made recent moves for insane figures, the fact that Sanchez is in the final six months of his contract makes the figures a bit strange.
According to newspaper reports, Alexis Sanchez is expected to agree a four and half year deal worth around 180M pounds, with 14M as salary after tax. He is also expected to earn plus of 350,000 pounds per week in a move that may also include a swap deal with Henrikh Mhkitaryan, perhaps explaining why the likes of Manchester City who had to reassess the situation following discovery that the injury to Gabriel Jesus is not long term and Chelsea failed to pursue their interest.
What does Alexis Sanchez bring to Manchester United?
Initially I was skeptical about the deal (in fact I am still not excited about the move), but looking at this objectively, it is a good, if not a great deal for Manchester United. Following the injury to Zlatan Ibrahimovic last season, United lost not just a proven goal scorer but also a prime superstar and despite extending his contract at Old Trafford by an extra year, it is evident to see that Zlatan is not the same player he was last year after recovering from his long term injury. So while the club may have replaced his goals in Lukaku, there still seems to be a need for a player with star dust which only Paul Pogba seems to bring to United these days.
Manchester United has a fair range of young talents with a number of old legs, Sanchez’s arrival will bring a balance and an extra edge to the attack as has proven both at club and national level that he can play anywhere across the forward line, so he is not coming to replace Lukaku as some have claimed but to support and bring the best out of our attacking talents.
How United could line up with Sanchez:
Jose Mourinho has in several press conferences sent out mixed messages about not been properly backed by the Manchester United board and has not hidden the fact that he would be willing to add to his squad while Alexis Sanchez who will be remembered for his outburst in the round of 16 defeat to Bayern Munich in the 2015 Champions League coming together seems like a perfect match of two fiery individuals. Alexis Sanchez is 29 and despite several Copa America titles at National level, his club career has not exactly been stellar and this is his final chance not just to get a big deal but to also push for some major silverware in club football.
Many United fans have also expressed fears about how Sanchez’s arrival may distort the growth of young talents like Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial. The duo have had a decent season so far as they have been interchanged in most games to the teams benefit as they present a different form of threat but have lacked the required consistency in their game. So where does Sanchez’s arrival leave this duo as he is known to have played a majority of his games at Arsenal on the left side where the duo operates. Having watched Sanchez on occasion with Chile, he also has the ability to play in the role behind the striker, a role presently occupied but not exactly cemented by Jesse Lingard, with the likelihood of Henri Mhkitaryan leaving in an exchange deal and Juan Mata who is still not certain about a contract extension, it points to a vacancy on the right wing where I feel Alexis can also operate from which will make for an interesting attacking trio with Lukaku and Martial/Rashford but at the end of the day, every top team manager is been paid to have tough decisions like this to make and I believe Jose will rather choose to have a quality problem than one where he lacks the choices.
Alexis Sanchez on his day is quality, will bring pace and goals to the squad, his eligibility to play in the Champions League where his experience and drive will be important is also a plus for the squad. With Jose Mourinho expected to sign a new deal beyond his present three year contract, the arrival of Alexis Sanchez, Manchester United may not be winning the league this season, but a good run in the Champions League, winning the FA cup and ending the league on a high since Sir Alex’s departure (we have finished seventh, fourth, fifth and sixth since 2013) may just set the team on the right standing for what they ultimately seek to achieve next season, which is to win the league.