Alexis Sanchez’s transfer to Manchester United might not miraculously turn them into title-contenders, but it does inject a whole lot of creativity and desire into the Old Trafford, while also boosting their already pace-filled attack.
Arsenal, on the other hand, has seen yet another attacking spearhead sign for their fierce rivals. Back in 2012, it was Robin Van Persie – in his absolute prime. Sanchez, too, is in his prime years and has been Arsenal’s biggest asset since his signing from Barcelona in 2014. If we are to compare the two as to who, out of Sanchez and Van Persie, was the London club’s bigger loss, it would be Sanchez by a margin.
The Chilean has not only been scoring majority of Arsenal’s goals in the last four seasons, he has also been instrumental in creating opportunities for those around him. Only this season has his stats deteriorated in his attacking repertoire, but that is possibly because Arsenal has been under-performing as a unit.
Sanchez is no doubt, a difficult loss for the Gunners, but definitely not an irreplaceable one. Manchester United had offered Armenian playmaker Henrikh Mkhitaryan in a swap deal for Sanchez and Mkhitaryan has agreed to a move to North London. In addition, Arsenal is linked with Borussia Dortmund’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, and if the Gunners succeed in their attempts to lure the Gabonese to EPL, Arsenal’s Sanchez wound would heal quickly.
For Mkhitaryan, who has failed to make his presence felt in England, a move to Arsenal might just have come at the right time. United’s style of play was sort of uncomfortable for the Armenian. Arsenal’s dynamic pace and ball movement, however, has more similarities than differences stylistically with Borussia Dortmund – a club Mkhitaryan enjoyed great success at – and if Wenger hits the right notes, Henrikh could be Arsenal’s best composition in years.
Manchester United has gained more in Alexis than what they have lost in Mkhitaryan. Since Wayne Rooney’s departure, the club has been hunting for someone just as good, or maybe even better than the former English captain to fill a substantial void. Romelu Lukaku and Anthony Martial were tipped to be Rooney’s heir at United, but both are conventional out-and-out strikers with a one-dimensional approach to their game.
After Rooney’s departure, Mourinho described his loss in these words: “Wayne was a very positive influence. We cannot say we are going to improve the group because Wayne left. No way, or the other way around.”
Mourinho knew what he was saying back then. Rooney had been performing below-par towards the end of his career at the Old Trafford, but his absolute absence from the team – in the stadium and in the dressing room – has proved to be worse than anyone would have expected. Sanchez’s inclusion in United, fortunately, has all necessary tools to fit that piece of puzzle and in fact, own it. Sanchez has qualities that Rooney possessed and on top of that, he has pace and the ability to pick his teammates in crucial goal-scoring areas.
The two-time Copa America winner has the right character, he’s a tough, dynamic, keeps on running around the pitch until the final whistle and has an exceptional ability to score and create goals. He also loves challenges and what better a challenge than pioneering United’s revival.
He’s the perfect fit for United. Moreover, having played for FC Barcelona and Arsenal, there’s no additional big-club pressure on him that might hinder his performances. There might be a slight ego problem however, but Mourinho knows how to marshal his troops and Sanchez would definitely bag a high rank in the cadre.
Sanchez to Manchester United and Mkhitaryan to Arsenal is a pleasant move for both teams. More so for Arsenal, they would not have to leave empty handed this time around.