Monday 22 January 2018

Welcome to Manchester United, Alexis Sanchez.

So it's official... Alexis Sanchez is a Manchester United player.

In one of the most stunning, out-of-the-blue transfers in the history of this great club, the Reds have completed the sensational swoop for Arsenal's star man on a four-year contract. The Chilean will be available to make his debut in the quaint and inauspicious surroudings of Yeovil's Huish Park in Friday's FA Cup tie. For so long linked with the blue of mega-rich City, this was a raid that no-one - not even the most ardent United fan - would have seen coming a week ago. City tried to sign him back in the summer but their bid for him collapsed on deadline day after Arsenal failed to get a replacement. The Etihad again seemed his only destination when the window opened at the beginning of this month. Instead, Sanchez saw the light and joins the biggest club in the world where he'll not only play every week as first choice, but he'll do so at a club with the tradition, history, ambition and fanbase that the mob across town can only ever dream of.

Sanchez will don United's iconic number seven shirt and follow in the footsteps of some of our greatest ever players by pulling on that jersey - legends of the ilk of Bryan Robson, Eric Cantona, David Beckham and Cristiano Ronaldo. If his impact is even half as good as any of those, then he'll have done well. This is a signing reminiscent of the £24m move we made for Robin van Persie back in 2012. Let's hope that Alexis has the same impact that 30-goal RVP did as he fired us to the title in his debut season. The prospect of him playing in the same forward line as Romelu Lukaku, Juan Mata, Anthony Martial, Jesse Lingard and Marcus Rashford - with Paul Pogba supplying the ammo - is one to make every one of us drool.

There's no money involved in the deal, it's a straight swap as Henrikh Mkhitaryan moves the other way to Arsenal after one and a half seasons at United - where he showed only flashes of the form that persuaded us to buy him from Borussia Dortmund.  Both Alexis and Mkhitaryan will be available to play in Europe - Sanchez in the Champions League for us and Mikki in the Europa League for Arsenal. Even though both have featured in Europe already this season, us and the Gunners are in different tournaments which allows both Alexis and Mikki to represent their new clubs in continental competition.

As a United fan, Sanchez was always the player you were most worried about when we played Arsenal. A considerable upgrade on Mikki, he's a bundle of guile, pace, energy and creativity who can play anywhere across the front. In contrast to Mkhitartan's ability as a deep-lying playmaker, Sanchez is direct and always to create, whether that be through assisting others or scoring himself. A multi-talented striker equally adept with either foot, he was always the one Arsenal player you felt could conjure something out of nothing. Arguably his best game in a Gunners shirt came against us when he inspired his rampant team-mates to a 3-0 win over United in 2015, a game in which he scored twice. Sanchez is a player born to wear the Red of United, and I've not been this excited about a signing since we got Angel Di Maria back in 2014. He was one of our less successful number 7s, and we've not had a player who's done that iconic shirt justice in a while. Let's hope this is the start of something truly special.

Welcome to Manchester United, Alexis Sanchez.

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