This article is part of Football FanCast’s Opinion series, which provides analysis, insight and opinion on any issue within the beautiful game, from Paul Pogba’s haircuts to League Two relegation battles…
Ladies and gentlemen, Alexis Sanchez has finally left the building. The 30-year-old endured a horrific time at Manchester United since making the move from Premier League rivals Arsenal back in January 2018. The Chile international struggled hugely with form and injuries, and it was little surprise to see the Red Devils look to move him on this summer.
It may have taken a long while to do so, but Sanchez’s exit – albeit a temporary one for the time being – has finally been confirmed.
United’s pursuit of the versatile forward seemed to come as a result of wanting to get a one-up on their ‘noisy neighbours’ Manchester City, rather than trying to weigh up whether he would actually fit in their team. The Chilean became a poisoned chalice, and symbolised everything that has gone wrong at Old Trafford in recent seasons.
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On-the-pitch, Sanchez managed just five goals and nine assists in 45 appearances, and never appeared to find his place in United’s team. He was the main man at Arsenal under Arsene Wenger, but never got anywhere near that level of creative freedom at Old Trafford. Instead, the forward suffered as much as anyone from Jose Mourinho’s rigid structure and tactics.
Away from his non-existent efforts on the field, Sanchez’s reported £350k-a-week wages became a stick to beat United’s transfer policy with. Eye-watering money for someone who barely contributed.
Squad depth is understandably a major concern at Old Trafford, particularly following the departures of Sanchez and Romelu Lukaku. Some United fans were even clamouring for the former to stay at the club just to provide Solskjaer with some numbers.
But ultimately, if the Norwegian feels the side are better off without such a presence in their squad, then he has to be backed. The Red Devils desperately need everyone to be pulling in the same direction, and the end of the Sanchez nightmare may just allow them to do so.
There’s an awful long way to go yet to get back on that perch, but the club finally seems to be taking forward steps rather than backward ones.