Latest posts by Charlie Widdicombe (see all)
- Why Formula E Could Overtake F1 As The Pinnacle Of Motorsport - August 13, 2018
- Premier League 2018/19: Pre-Season Predictions - August 10, 2018
- Fantasy Premier League 2018/19- Gameweek 1 Team Selection - August 10, 2018
It feels like speculation has gone on for years, but at long last Alexis Sanchez is on his way out of Arsenal. While this doesn’t come as a surprise to any football fan, it appeared a foregone conclusion that he would be reunited with Pep Guardiola at Manchester City, but instead he has ended up at Manchester United instead, in a straight swap deal with Henrik Mkhitaryan. So, who are the winners and losers in this situation?
Having taken Sanchez from under the nose of rivals City, Ed Woodward, Mourinho and United couldn’t be much happier with their work. There is no doubt that Sanchez is valued much higher than Mkhitaryan, so the nature of Sanchez’s expiring contract at Arsenal has meant United have acquired a world class player at a deflated price. Sanchez will surely be above the plethora of attacking options in the 4-2-3-1 system that united tend to play, such as Martial, Rashford and Mata. He can also play as an out-and-out striker, which may be useful for Mourinho to give Lukaku a rest whilst Zlatan Ibrahimovic is out injured. The deal has also meant the offload of Mkhitaryan, who never quite fitted in with the club, despite spells of utter quality.
Verdict: Winners. Sanchez adds an attacking verve to United and this is a statement from United that they will not let City walk all over them.
If Arsenal hadn’t managed to offload Sanchez, they would have lost a player worth at least £60 million without any compensation in summer. It seems extremely unlikely that Arsenal will finish in the top 4 this season anyway, so the only real purpose of keeping Sanchez would have been to try and ensure champions league qualification by winning the Europa League. Sanchez was clearly unhappy with the club too, so to exchange him for a player of Mkhitaryan’s quality is good business considering the situation. It was vital that Arsenal replaced Sanchez with a high-quality player, otherwise Ozil, Lacazette and others would become increasingly disenfranchised with the club and be far more likely to leave. An attacking front 3 of these players is surely guaranteed to bring Arsenal goals.
Verdict: Winners. Arsenal have offloaded Sanchez in return for an extremely good player in Mkhitaryan which makes it clear that they are still an ambitious club that aims for champions league qualification and more. To do that, however, maybe they should be looking to sign a better holding midfielder and defenders.
City pulled out of signing Sanchez because the fee demands were too high for their liking (even though they undoubtedly had the finances to make the deal). However, would Sanchez have been good for City in reality? Sane and Sterling are both playing sublimely this season, and Bernado Silva is a more than able back-up. If he were to play as a number 9, this would surely alienate Aguero, and could cause one of the greatest goalscorers of recent times to pack his bags and leave the Etihad. Having said this, losing out on a world class player to your local rivals and closest rivals for the title is never ideal.
Verdict: Mixed. They can cruise to the title without the need of Sanchez, but they have let United improve which could come back to haunt them in a cup competition this year, or next year…
There were rumours that Chelsea were interested in Sanchez (Who wouldn’t be?), especially as the blues are on the lookout for a striker. These were quashed by manager Conte, and they never materialised into a formal bid. However, considering that Morata is having a dry spell in which he seems to lack confidence, and back up striker Batshuayi is not trusted by Conte in the slightest, a move for Sanchez would have made sense; taking him off a local rival instead of letting him go to close competitors United, and for a bargain price, would have been ideal. Instead, Chelsea are considering signing Peter Crouch from Stoke. Even though I am (genuinely) one of Crouch’s biggest admirers, signing a player who often doesn’t even start for a relegation threatened team seems baffling, considering Chelsea may have been able to get Sanchez. I would be delighted for Crouch to prove me wrong…
Verdict: Losers. They let Sanchez go from one rival to another for a reduced price, despite clearly being in the market for a forward. The alternative options are of nowhere near the same quality.
The focus of the whole saga has been on Sanchez, and many have forgotten that there are huge implications for Mkhitaryan too. He never really cemented himself into the United XI, but if he can reproduce the form he produced at the beginning of this season then he can be a force to be reckoned with at Arsenal.
Verdict: Winner. Although moving to Arsenal from United can be seen as a downgrade, the Gunners are still a big club with some top quality players such as Ozil and Lacazette (if he can re-discover prolific form).
Alexis finally has got his wish, leaving the Emirates for good. But was United really his preferred destination? Yes, he’s guaranteed to start every game of importance with the Red Devils, but at City the chance for silverware is much greater, and I’m sure that he fancies his chances of getting into the City Xi ahead of Sterling and Sane. Many will talk about the huge salary that Sanchez will glady receive, but for a world-class footballer trophies are much harder to come by than money.
Verdict: Mixed. Finally got a move away but surely would have preferred to be in the Blue side of Manchester rather than Red.