Yesterday, much awaited and much publicized transfer of Alexis Sanchez from Arsenal to Manchester United completed. A lot has been said and written about why player chose to join red half of Manchester rather than blue half including how Alexis wanted to reunite with Pep Guardiola. The player and coach had spent time at Barcelona so everybody assumed it was a done deal. But as things stand that was certainly not the case.
For starters, let’s agree on something. Alexis Sanchez is an amazing player. As things stand, he is among top 10 players in the world. So whichever side he joined, he would have made them better. At the moment, City have certainly a better side in terms of individuals involved compared to Manchester United. Had Alexis gone to City, the gap between City and United would have been much bigger. However, as things stand, it’s getting shorter. This is an excellent news for English Football. In this year’s title race, City already have lead of 12 points. This is their title to lose. With Alexis Sanchez moving to Manchester United, next year’s title race may not be this one sided.
Sanchez certainly gives an extra dimension to Manchester United. He is going to give lot of options to Jose especially in tight games. His ability to run with ball and create chances and finish chances would make world of difference. Currently United utilize Martial and Rashford to provide width down the flanks. Alexis Sanchez would provide extra options.
Defensively United have been rock solid this season. David de Gea is one of the best Goal Keepers in the world at the moment. Some of the problems that United have faced this year have been upfront. In tight games, the “X” factor has been missing. As a result, United have dropped too many points already. For instance, consider game against Liverpool earlier in the season. Due to solid defensive foundation (or as some people call “parking the bus”), game finished as 0-0 draw. It’s not a terrible result. Now if you add Alexis Sanchez to that game, result may have been different and hopefully would have been an away win for Jose’s men. It’s these tight games especially among top 6, would decide how table would look like at the end of season.
In these top games now, Manchester United have an option of putting in a side that’s strong both in defence and attack. In conventional 4-2-3-1 formation, after a steady and good back 4, United now have luxury of having 2 anchors in midfield. Matic and Herrera can dominate middle of the park. Now Jose can select “3” in attacking section from impressive list of Martial, Rashford, Mata, Pogba, Lingard and Alexis Sanchez. On top of this there would be a CF in form of either Lukaku or Zlatan. I fully expect Jose to go with floating 3 of Martial / Rashford, Pogba and Sanchez in big games.
Usually big players don’t move in January transfer window. However, this time around it’s a perfect storm that made helped this move. Sanchez was in last 6 months of his contract at Arsenal. They risked losing him for free next summer. He was not ready to renew his contract for sure. Arsenal the selling party were ready to sell as long buyer matched their valuation of the player.
Then player himself wanted a change. He was ready to move at first available opportunity. With Chile not qualified for World Cup, he can now have nice relaxing summer without having to worry about his future. He can now relax and come back with his batteries fully charged for next season.
Buyers in this case, Manchester United didn’t have any hesitation in agreeing deal. There are different theories going around how much transfer fee was actually paid. But that was something United could afford. Apparently, Sanchez’s agent wanted a big day. United were happy to oblige. When you’re getting a player of Alexis Sanchez’ quality and calibre, you need to pay the wages that are required. Again, United hierarchy didn’t have any problems meeting this demand. It’s win – win situation for all 3 parties.
One of the main reasons why United pressed ahead with this transfer is it’s more about getting a quality squad in place for next season. Off course, this season is not lost cause yet. United are very much in hunt for 2 trophies in form for FA Cup and Champions League. Alexis Sanchez is eligible to represent club in both those competitions. As a result, United have been handed a massive boost. League title is City’s to lose. United are trying to get as close to City as possible so, they would be in good position at start of next campaign!
Alexis Sanchez is not the only big player who moved in January transfer window. Barcelona paid what Liverpool wanted to get Coutinho. One of the reasons why these transfers happened in January rather than summer of 2018 is world cup. Traditionally all the top teams are busy scouting players at the tournament. Real Madrid follow their own galatico model and try to buy best player from tournament. Uncertainty around players availability post tournament appears to be one of the reasons behind clubs ready to pay huge sums in January. The day Neymar moved from Barcelona to PSG, transfer markets started writing a new chapter. In light of Neymar move and extra premium clubs have to pay for World Cup stars, certainly seems to have forced hands for January moves. There is a very high possibility, clubs would spend more money in January to avoid paying inflated transfer fees and wages in summer.