It’s finally happened. After a protracted transfer saga that almost saw the Chilean join Pep Guardiola and Manchester City, Alexis Sanchez has finally completed his move to Manchester United. He will link up with Jose Mourinho as he ends his spell with the London club after Arsenal were determined to not lose him on a free transfer in the summer.
“I am thrilled to be joining the biggest club in the world,” Sanchez said in a statement on United’s website. He added:
“The chance to play in this historic stadium and to work with [United manager] Jose Mourinho was something I could not turn down.
“I am very proud to be the first Chilean player ever to play for United’s first team and I hope I can show our fans all around the world why the club wanted to bring me here.”’
Courted by Manchester City since it was suspected that Sanchez was not going to be signing a new deal with the Gunners, Sanchez opted to go with the red side of Manchester after a deal that saw Henrikh Mkhitaryan go in the opposite direction. In a business sense, it was a good deal for both sides.
Mkhitaryan, who turned 29 on Sunday, was among Mourinho’s first signings at United but quickly fell out of selection with the manager. He eventually worked his way into the squad and made 63 appearances overall in his 18 months with United. He managed to score 13 times including a goal in the Europa League Final.
Some United fans thought he might be the answer to their creative issue with goals and assists but the Armenian international has not lived up to the the high expectations. Mourinho said in November that he was unhappy with how the player was “disappearing” during games.
With Mkhitaryan leaving, Alexis Sanchez is the perfect player for Manchester United and improves the squad massively. Sanchez’s ability and threat comes from his versatility on the pitch. By trade, he is a winger and can play on the left or the right which is where he primarily he played at both Barcelona and Arsenal.
Additionally, he can play through the center just behind the striker or “in the hole” position. Alternatively, he can play up top as the main striker as a front-man. This gives United depth, and quality in the attacking position especially when Romelu Lukaku needs to be rested.
Sanchez is also a clinical finisher in front of goal as well as a potent provider of assists. He not only scores and assists, but he does so with a regularity that only Harry Kane can claim more direct involvement in goals and assists (36) during last season’s Premier League. Sanchez finished with 24 goals and was just 2 behind the Spurs striker.
The list of added traits and strengths he brings to United’s squad continues from there. Sanchez is a proven premier league player and will no doubt look to hit the ground running when he steps out into Old Trafford for his first game. Mourinho loves bringing in established players from the Premier League. Just look at Matic, Lukaku and even Pogba. All had experience and had proven they could play in the Premier League before being brought to The Theater of Dreams.
Sanchez also offers the ability of some much needed resilience and depth for the attack and midfield of Manchester United. His injury record is refreshingly clean and when he does get injured, he recovers quickly. A reliable forward/midfielder will give Mourinho some breathing space as the season drags on and other injuries surface.
Most importantly however, is Sanchez’s addition to United European campaign. Sanchez’s time at Barcelona was smack in the middle between their 2011 and 2015 Champions League victories and Arsenal have not progressed past the round of 16 since 2009/10. But he joins a manager, in Mourinho, that is glittered with European honors and possesses great experience in knockout competitions.
Manchester United’s acquisition of Alexis Sanchez means they have acquired one of the world’s most devastating and versatile forwards. His consistent goal/assist contribution means he adds an extra potency towards United’s attack and takes the strain off of an over reliance on Lukaku/Rashford and Martial to create goals.
United fans will be eagerly anticipating that first memorable appearance, that first finely whipped cross, or that first fiercely finished goal. Reds everywhere will be hoping that he can lead United back to the promised land.