The vast majority of Manchester United fans will be thrilled at the prospect of Alexis Sanchez leaving the club; some would even be willing to drive Sanchez to the airport themselves. Sanchez has endured a desperately disappointing spell thus far at the Theatre of Dreams – or for Sanchez, the ‘Theatre of Nightmares’ – scoring just one goal last season, and a mere five goals in 53 matches.
As such, Sanchez is regarded as one of Manchester United’s biggest flops in history – perhaps the biggest in the somewhat post-apocalyptic Sir Alex Ferguson era – where flops have been frequent. One silver lining is that the club have not lost out in personnel, as Henrikh Mkhitaryan (who was as a part-exchange deal for Sanchez), has endured an equally embarrasing spell at Arsenal, scoring just eight goals in thirty eight appearances. However, that Manchester United are paying the Chilean a staggering £505,000 a week during his injury-plagued career at the club, exacerbates how humiliating the transfer has been for both the club and the player.
Yet my view differs from the consensus of Manchester United fans; the emphasis of ‘big’ mistake in the title indicates how I would not be driving him straight to Manchester airport any time soon, and instead want to keep Sanchez at the club. The reason behind my view is that Sanchez has proven his sheer talent (albeit at another club); demonstrating how he can set the Premier League alight through his South American trickery, and justify every penny in his extortionate contract by scoring at least twenty goals per season.
It is premature to say that Sanchez does not fit into the new mould that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is forming, as Sanchez has seldom played under Solskjaer due to a series of injuries which have kept him on the sidelines. Indeed Sanchez struggled under his predecessor Jose Mourinho, yet attacking players Anthony Martial, Marcus Rashford and Romelu Lukaku alike had underwhelming seasons, partly down to Mourinho’s defensive football, uncharacteristic of Manchester United. Solskjaer’s fluid, free-flowing style will surely suit Sanchez, who will have more responsibility and add much needed depth to the slim pickings in attack, especially after Romelu Lukaku’s transfer to Inter Milan. Since Solskjaer places youth at the heartbeat of the team, the 130 capped Chilean international will add experience to a youthful forward line. This will enable them to develop to their full potential, mirroring the role that Zlatan Ibrahimovic had on players like Martial and Rashford.
Marcus Rashford scored twice in United’s opening day win over Chelsea.
If you are still unconvinced as to why Manchester United should keep hold of Sanchez, then envisage the following analogy: You are at checkout in a supermarket. You have a rather expensive item in your trolley, and are unsure whether it will be needed in the fridge and be put to good use later in the week or not. Do you risk taking it out of the trolley knowing that you could be low on food later in the week? In other words, do you risk selling Sanchez knowing that the goals could dry up in an already scarce forward line, or continue to pay him his high salary hoping that this will be the year that he finally comes good?