Monday, 22 January 2018

How we signed Alexis... and where he'll fit in

With Alexis Sanchez's contract up at the end of the season and Manchester City the only suitors, it always looked nailed on that he'd up across town in the blue of the neighbours. United and Jose, however, had other ideas.

In signing a player from a major rival, there are echoes of when City turned the tables to capture Carlos Tevez following his departure from us in 2009 - a move that prompted the ever noisier neighbours to erect the infamous "welcome to Manchester" banner. The stunning swoop is even more reminscent of when we signed Robin van Persie from Arsenal to United, from right under the noses of the mob across town. RVP joined for a paltry £24m and it turned out to be a title-winning transfer. This time we've gone one better and got a younger upgrade for nothing, but had City played their cards right back in August it would never have come to this.

Although their £60m bid for Sanchez on deadline day matched Arsenal's asking price, it did not give the Gunners enough time to sign the Chilean's replacement, Thomas Lemar, of Monaco. Sanchez stayed put, City waited, confident of landing their man. United watched, bided their time and pounced. The result is probably the greatest free signing this club - and the Premier League - has ever seen. It's one that no one could ever have imagined.

City and Pep Guardiola felt that the mid-season arrival of Sanchez could disrupt their dynamic, and buying in January is always a difficult process. For us, that's secondary to having a winning environment. In Henrikh Mkhitaryan, we had a player surplus to requirements that Arsenal wanted but City did not. In mid-season, it meant the club who really needed Sanchez more got him ahead of the club for whom he would have been no more than just a useful addition. When he takes his place in the embarrasment of attacking riches that Jose has at his disposal, then the hope will be that we can push closer to City - or even beyond them.

Sanchez is so versatile - he can play left, right, down the middle as an out-and-out striker or in the hole as a number ten. This is a simply incredible coup for the club. Jose likes to tinker with his team and shuffle his attacking players around, so where he fits in could depend on the form of the other forwards. One thing we've probably lacked - although Jesse Lingard has been good - is supporting Romelu Lukaku and coming from a little bit deeper to score. This is where I think Sanchez will come into his own.

He'll likely play in and around Lukaku in a 'floating' role as a ten, ahead of Paul Pogba and Nemanja Matic. I can also see him on the left hand side as, even though he's right-footed, he's equally as adept on the left and can cut inside. But Anthony Martial and Lingard are both in form and it would be harsh to drop either so at the moment I'd probably say that Alexis is better suited to a position on the right.

Either way, we know he can play anywhere across the front and we've seen how good he is in an Arsenal shirt - there are few better on the continent when this lad's on the top of his game.

#Alexis7

Click below to watch Alexis' official unveiling as a United player. Yes, that really is him on the piano..


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