By Gabriel Ameh, The Sight News
Alexis Sanchez has completed his transfer to Manchester United, with Henrikh Mkhitaryan joining Arsenal in return.
When did Manchester United first become interested in a deal for Sanchez and what convinced them to make a move?
Sanchez has been on Manchester United’s radar but they thought it was a done deal that Manchester City would get him, bearing in mind the relationship between Pep Guardiola and the player from their time together at Barcelona.
However, it probably struck them that there was an opportunity to do business when Sanchez didn’t go to City on the final day of the summer window. They probably thought, ‘let’s try the waters’ and I think they realised there were two components in play, which they could use to bring Sanchez to the club. The first was that they could offer Arsenal something they wouldn’t get from another deal, in Mkhitaryan. Then there were the wages they could offer Sanchez, which no one else could compete with.
The Chilean completed his move from Arsenal on Monday, with Henrikh Mkhitaryan heading to the Emirates as part of a swap deal, and will wear the iconic No 7 shirt at Old Trafford.
Sanchez spent three-and-a-half-years at Arsenal and it appeared as though he was heading to Manchester City before Pep Guardiola’s side ended their interest in the 29-year-old due to costs, but Sanchez insists he has always dreamed of playing for United and believes he has signed for the biggest club in the country.
The problem for Manchester City is they will look at their wage structure, which sees players still being paid an absolute fortune, and they won’t want Sanchez to walk into their squad and be paid masses more than Kevin De Bruyne, who has just signed a new contract at the club and is clearly a younger, perhaps even better, Premier League player than Sanchez is.
It was probably that friction which allowed Manchester United in. They’ve said all along they don’t like doing January business but when something exceptional comes along they’ll go for it. The figures work for them in many ways. I know people have talked about the wages for Sanchez, but he is soaking up the Mkhitaryan wages, which were big, and of course there isn’t a transfer fee either for a player who is in the £60m-£70m bracket.
Mourinho wants players of a certain calibre, clearly, but he wants players of a certain attitude as well. And if you look at Mkhitaryan, you wouldn’t describe him as a fighter, whereas Sanchez has displayed throughout his career he has the quality but he also has the mettle. It’s almost upgrading silk to steel.
Mourinho wants a powerful side. The only thing against Sanchez is he isn’t over six foot tall, which you expect from a Mourinho player! But Sanchez gives you that power and that might. Mourinho is looking for a lot of leaders on the pitch and Sanchez would clearly be one of those people.
Mourinho has a wish list that he puts in front of executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward. He will talk to the owners, the Glazers, to sanction the spending but the negotiation side is something Woodward does pretty much exclusively on his own. He will obviously take advice from various people at the football club – he can call on the likes of Sir Alex Ferguson and David Gill if he needs information – but I’m led to believe he pretty much does that on his own.
He has his critics, because people say he’s not dyed in the wool Manchester United, but he has landed targets, whether it’s Paul Pogba, Romelu Lukaku or Zlatan Ibrahimovic. People will say they’ve spent a lot of money but these were players that other rivals would want in their squads but they came to Manchester United.
One of the reasons why United didn’t make a move for Sanchez in the summer was because they didn’t know the situation with Zlatan Ibrahimovic and how he’d recover from his injury.
However, since he is back in the treatment room after making his early comeback, that’s probably focused their minds a little bit. They put their eggs in that basket and it clearly hasn’t proved to be right. Ibrahimovic might again prove everyone wrong but he’s not an option right now.