Manchester United‘s signing of Alexis Sanchez remains one of the most notable failed additions that the Old Trafford outfit have made in the post-Sir Alex Ferguson era, with the former Arsenal talisman doing little to justify his reported exorbitant salary.
The epitome of arguably all that was wrong with former chief executive Ed Woodward’s recruitment strategy, the Chile international is one of a long list of big-name stars whom the Red Devils have been seduced by in recent times, with the club routinely opting for a short-term glamour fix over a more astute, long-term option.
Although the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Edinson Cavani and Cristiano Ronaldo have all had varying degrees of success in recent years, in the case of Sanchez there was seemingly few positives in what was a disastrously brief stint at the club.
Signed as part of a swap deal in January 2018 which saw Henrikh Mkhitaryan move in the other direction, amid rival interest from Manchester City, the then-29-year-old was handed the club’s iconic number seven shirt as he made a somewhat bizarre, piano-playing entrance to the Theatre of Dreams.
Not all had seemingly foreseen what would prove to be a dismal scenario for all parties at the time, with likely many supporters, as well as pundits, having been hopeful that the dynamic forward would be able to continue the explosive form he had shown at the Emirates Stadium, where he had provided 125 goal contributions in just 166 games after joining from Barcelona in 2014.
United legend Phil Neville, in particular, was one of those who had talked up the 5 foot 7 menace’s potential impact at the club just prior to the confirmation of the deal, suggesting that he would be an “absolutely unbelievable signing” and a real “coup” for then-boss Jose Mourinho.
The current Inter Miami head coach even went as far as to suggest that the player could make a similar, title-winning impact to the likes of Eric Cantona and Robin van Persie, such was the Englishman’s belief that Sanchez would thrive in his new surroundings, despite having suffered something of a dip in the first half of the 2017/18 campaign at his former club with Ian Wright suggesting he had ‘clocked off’.
As it proved, however, Neville couldn’t have been more wrong as the one-time Udinese machine went on to prove a truly costly mistake for Mourinho and co, as he scored just five goals and registered only nine assists in 45 games for the club.
Although there were rare bright moments – including his display in the comeback win over rivals City at the Etihad in April 2018 – the diminutive playmaker simply could not replicate the form he had shown in his career prior to that.
A constant reminder of his reported £350k-per-week wage may not have helped matters, although Sanchez simply failed to ever look worthy of that sizeable investment, having even since admitted he sought to leave the club just a day after arriving.
The appointment of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer ultimately saw the ageing talent cast aside as he was moved on loan to Inter Milan in the summer of 2019, before joining the San Siro outfit on a permanent deal the following year, with the 33-year-old now plying his trade for Ligue 1 side Marseille.
In truth, the £3.15m-rated man simply made Neville – and likely others – look rather silly after making such a measly impact at Old Trafford.