Equal Time: Alexis Sanchez to Manchester United: Who wins?
Alexis Sanchez looks to have finally found what he's been searching for. Has it really been trophies, though?
The Chilean's saga has been the main transfer headline for the past week across all football outlets. The drama has been dragging on since last season. One deal to go to Manchester City was nixed when Arsene Wenger felt he hadn't time to sign a replacement. A second was hijacked by Jose Mourinho. In all fairness, either club is a step up for Sanchez. He only has two FA Cups to show for the past three-and-a-half years.
A world-class attacker, he's been among the best forward players in the Premier League since his arrival. His influence on the Arsenal side particularly showed last season. He pumped in 24 goals and set up another ten in 36 league games.
Now the obvious question is whether this is RvP 2.0? Because sequels are rarely as good as the original.
How many years does Alexis have left at the top? Is he overdue for a long-term injury? Will he and Jose click or clash? What about everyone else involved? There are always winners and losers. Here are three of the former:
Obviously not a surprise. The Chilean is finally at a top, top club. He will be expected to supplement what is already one of Europe’s top scoring clubs. And he will. His versatility to play in any of the front four roles in a 4-2-3-1 formation will guarantee him a starting berth. His ability to track back, something which Mourinho loves, will be a welcome change from Henrikh Mkhitaryan.
He has a three-and-a-half year deal with a reported £14 million annual salary after tax. Sanchez should solidify United’s runner-up spot this season and be one of multiple driving forces in a 2018-19 United side that closes the gap on Pep’s juggernaut.
Plus his famous dogs will have new territory to explore.
(Assuming 'Mkhi' does go to London and is joined by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang)
The Armenian international is a superb player. He offered glimpses at United but his penultimate season at Dortmund was phenomenal. Twenty-three goals and 32 assists is simply unreal. His final campaign in black and yellow, interrupted by injury, saw him score 11 goals, lay on 11 assists, and win 11 Man of the Match awards in just 28 games.
Chemistry with Auba and a style of play that compliments Arsenal under Wenger should raise his profile again.
Thanks to Sven Mlisintat, who brought Mkhitaryan to BvB from Shakhtar before coming to Arsenal as scouting director, Wenger could be the biggest winner.
The Frenchman will be relieved and fortunate at the very least. No other top-six manager would still be in his job after choosing to let a pair of marquee players' contracts run down. He’s now sold a top striker whose form has dropped off quite significantly this season and hasn't been entirely a team player.
The funds from the transaction could bring him two world-class players in Mkhitaryan and Aubameyang. If you had gone on ArsenalTV claiming Wenger would flip Sanchez into two superstars during the winter window you'd have been laughed off the air.
But they'll take it.