Will Inter move rejuvenate Alexis Sanchez's career?
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Alexis Sanchez enjoyed the brightest days of his career at Arsenal. He was a fan favourite at the Emirates Stadium before swapping the Gunners for Manchester United. After switching to Old Trafford, his career took a different turn.
Eighteen months have passed since the Chilean joined the Red Devils. The positive expectations that followed his transfer refused to manifest. Sanchez couldn't justify Jose Mourinho's craving to have him on his side. Ole Gunnar Solksjaer's management also failed to get the attacker back on track. Their patience exhausted, United fans turned against him. His future lies elsewhere.
Given his recent struggles, the club can't sell him for value. That might not be a problem. New Inter boss Antonio Conte reportedly wants him in Milan.
According to various media outlets, the two clubs are negotiating a season-long loan. The sticking point is who pays the lion's share of Sanchez's massive weekly wages. To date, the player allegedly refuses to take a salary cut to make the deal happen. He already took a sizable hit when United failed to qualify for Champions League football. The Beneamata represent a chance to rescue his dwindling career. Will he take it?
To start with, it is important to realize that the Chilean inarguably ranked among the Premier League's top talents while with the Gunners. His 61 EPL goals and 30 assists speak volumes. Pace, strength, skill and work rate. He had them all as well as supreme finishing. Although his statistics have declined tremendously in the last two seasons, a switch of environment could be enough to turn his fortune around.
Other players found United too high a mountain to climb. Diego Forlan and Juan Sebastian Veron were prized by Sir Alex Ferguson but couldn't make their mark. Forlan went to La Liga where he enjoyed tremendous success with Villarreal and Atletico Madrid before making a short stop at Inter. Veron switched to Chelsea who lent him out to Inter and then Estudiantes. More recently, Radamel Falcao and Angel Di Maria struggled only to thrive in Ligue 1.
As yet, the more recent duo hasn't tried Inter but that isn't to say it isn't ideal for Sanchez. Romelu Lukaku already joined the Nerazzurri this summer and scored four goals in his first pre-season outing. He replaces the unwanted Mauro Icardi. An Ivan Perisic-shaped hole still remains in Conte's squad with the Croatian winger off to Bayern Munich. Opportunity knocks.
With Antonio Conte at the helm, the Nerazzurri are a team to be watched. They made a huge statement in the transfer market this summer. Diego Godin, Stefano Sensi, Gabriel Barbosa [the one without the monkey], and Romelu Lukaku were all snapped up. Conte intends to challenge Juventus' Serie A monopoly. The one he began in 2011/12. Marrying Sanchez's burning fire to prove all naysayers wrong with Conte's unquenchable desire to win could be a perfect match.
Sanchez isn't finished yet. He still has a lot of fuel left in his tank. He proved that at this year's Copa America with his two goals for Chile. What he needs is an opportunity to start on a fresh note in a decent atmosphere and under a perfect system. His pride is the only stumbling block. Inter cannot afford his wages. United rightfully feel he should take a discount if they are going to pay him to play elsewhere. He can prove he still has it. The question is how badly he wants to.