For all the players that have been linked with a move to Manchester United this summer, it’s pretty amazing how little Alexis Sánchez’ name has been touted as a possible arrival at Old Trafford.
It seems quite likely that the Arsenal star will be on his way out of the Emirates Stadium this summer. With only one year remaining on his current deal in North London, Sánchez has been the subject of intense transfer speculation for some time now.
Sánchez interest unsurprisingly high
There’s no doubt that Sánchez would improve any of those sides, but it’s incredible that United do not also seem to be pursuing a move for the player. The 28-year-old could resolve a number of issues within United’s current squad and would arguably make more of a difference for José Mourinho’s men than for any of those aforementioned sides.
Judging by the most persistent United-related transfer rumours, Mourinho appears to be on the lookout for a new central midfielder, left-side attacker and centre-forward, while the centre-back area has already been addressed with the arrival of Victor Lindelöf from Benfica.
Sánchez, though, has the quality and versatility to fill the void of two of those problem positions.
A natural fit
Primarily, the former Barcelona forward would arrive as United’s new left-sided attacker. His style of play would suit a Mourinho team down to the ground – not only does he possess superb technical qualities but also a relentless pressing style and hard-working nature.
Playing most regularly on the left flank, Sánchez scored 25 goals in his first season with the Gunners and 17 in his second. Those goals from wide would be a welcome addition for United, who relied so heavily on Zlatan Ibrahimović last season with goals so sparse from other areas of the field.
United had used the likes of Marcus Rashford and Jesse Lingard on the left flank last term. While both provide the work ethic which Mourinho demands from his wingers, the former is not a natural fit for the role and the latter doesn’t look capable of producing Sánchez levels of output.
Having sold Memphis Depay to Lyon in January, Anthony Martial was arguably United’s only natural fit for the wide left role by the end of last term. However, unlike Rashford and Lingard, he does not always seem to apply himself as well defensively, perhaps explaining his comparative lack of action under Mourinho.
A Mourinho-type forward?
There would be no such worry with Sánchez, however. In April, Arsenal boss Arsène Wenger told the Metro newspaper that his player “prefers to play wide than up front.” That does not only suggest he would be a willing and natural fit for the left wing position, but also points to another area where he can potentially provide a solution for United this summer.
It may not be his preferred position, but Sánchez began last season in a lone striker’s role which saw Arsenal make an excellent start to the season. He scored with increasing regularity, and finished up his third season at the Emirates with 30 goals – more than either of his first two campaigns in England.
It was a run which saw Sánchez score 11 league goals by early December, at which time Arsenal were top of the Premier League with the Chilean at the forefront of their attack.
His goal tally would likely better that of Ivan Perišić, who seems to be the Red Devils’ current target to reinforce the left flank. Not only that, but with Inter holding out for €50m for the 28-year-old Croatian, who netted 11 times in 42 games last term, United wouldn’t have to spend too much more on £50m-rated Sánchez, his valuation equating to about €57m.
Sánchez can ease Morata burden
So there’s no doubt that Sánchez can be more than effective in that role, and it’s something which could prove useful for United. Again, judging by rumours only, Álvaro Morata looks like he’ll be the man to fill the Ibrahimović-shaped hole in the Red Devils’ attack.
Although an exciting player and still just 24, Morata does not provide the same guarantee of goals which Ibrahimović brought with him upon his arrival last summer. The Spaniard has impressed in his time at both Juventus and Real Madrid but is yet to feature as the first-choice striker for an entire season.
With that in mind, United could certainly do with an extra man to share the goalscoring burden which weighed too heavily on Ibrahimović’s shoulders last term rather than saddling Morata with such unnecessary pressure.
Sánchez is a fantastic goal scoring attacker and while he might not be a like-for-like replacement for Ibrahimović, he can bring similar qualities to the Swede. At 28, he is in his prime, has plenty of experience behind him and would be another player that the likes of Rashford and Martial could only benefit learning from – especially considering that all three most often play in the same two positions of left winger and striker.
A move too good to miss?
It’s really not too difficult to argue for why Sánchez would be a great addition for Mourinho’s United – his quality is there for all to see. An arrival for the Chilean would draw comparisons with former Gunner Robin van Persie’s switch from London to Manchester in Sir Alex Ferguson’s final season, as the Dutchman fired United to theirs and the boss’ last league title win.
Sánchez has the potential to make a similar impact for United, or in fact any interested side at the top of the Premier League. Where he ends up could be a decisive factor in the coming season’s title race, it’s just strange that Mourinho doesn’t seem to have the forward on his transfer radar.