Alexis Sanchez, From London to Manchester: The Transfer Saga

Manchester United's so called 'noisy neighbors', Manchester City were initially tipped as the favorites to sign the Chilean forward. For a long period of time, it seemed Sanchez was heading to City and it was just a case of when he would sign.

Manchester United have officially signed Alexis Sanchez from Arsenal in a deal which saw former Manchester United player, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, move to Arsenal as a part of the swap deal. This was a move almost a year in the making as Alexis Sanchez has dropped many hints of wanting a move away from Arsenal since January last year. However, the story of how Sanchez has ended up signing for Manchester United has been a fascinating tale in itself.

There were also reports of a deal being agreed between Manchester City and Arsenal for Alexis Sanchez, last summer. However, the deal reportedly fell through on the deadline day. Four months later, The 29-year old Chilean’s contract with Arsenal was running out and had only six months left in it.

It was just a couple of weeks ago when initial reports of Manchester United’s interest in Sanchez emerged in the English media. However, the rumors gathered pace in just a couple of days, and everybody sensed it could happen.

There was a massive revelation to the saga halfway through the transfer window when City announced the fact that they pulled out of the deal for Alexis Sanchez, on January 15. Sanchez’s wage demands were stated as the reasons for opting out of the deal.

It might have been hard to comprehend why Manchester City with the kind of financial backing they have, would be unwilling to pay the big bucks for a player of Sanchez’s quality. However, it was then abundantly clear that Manchester United were the prime favorites to land Sanchez.

Would Manchester United be willing to pay Sanchez more than what Man City offered? Would United be ready to offer more money to Arsene Wenger and Arsenal, compared to Man City? Or, they had a wager to tip the balance of the deal in their favor. This is when the name of certain Henrikh Mkhitaryan emerged into the reports suggesting a possibility of a swap deal.

Arsenal were about to lose their best player to one of their rivals. With Alexis Sanchez’s contract with Arsenal running out on summer, they would not get a very high value for their most prized asset. While, Alexis Sanchez leaving Arsenal seemed inevitable, to get an immediate replacement in a player of Mkhitaryan’s quality, would soften the blow for the Arsenal fans. After Arsenal assessed their options, they saw the reward in the deal for themselves and gave Manchester United the green light.

Mkhitaryan was signed by Manchester United from Borussia Dortmund, in the summer of 2016, for a reported transfer fee of £ 26 million. The Armenian had not been able to regenerate his incredible performances in the Dortmund shirt, wearing Manchester United colors.

Mkhitaryan was one of the best players for Mourinho in the road to first Europa League title in the history of the club. However, the 29-year old had not found his feet in the Premier League and had started to notice limited playing time under Jose Mourinho.

It might be fair to argue whether a player like Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Jose Mourinho were not best suitable for each other. Whether Arsene Wenger will be able to get the best of out of the Armenian remains a different argument.

If the player can get back to his form at Dortmund in his final years, Mkhitaryan will be a great addition to the Arsenal team. With no transfer fee involved in the deal and the fact that Henrikh Mkhitaryan still had two and a half years remaining in his Manchester United contract, some Arsenal fans might argue that their team might have got the better of the deal.

However, Arsenal fans will have a hard time digesting the fact, that they lost their best player to a direct rival in Manchester United. This is not the first time that Wenger and Arsenal have sold their best player to Manchester United. The summer of 2012 saw Robin Van Persie move to Old Trafford from Arsenal, to subsequently win the Premier League title in Sir Alex’s Ferguson’s last season at Manchester United.

Manchester United have signed Alexis Sanchez in a four-and-a-half-year deal. Reportedly, he is set to earn  £350,000 a week at Manchester United, which will make him the highest paid player in the Premier League.  Sanchez will be wearing the iconic Manchester United’s number seven shirt, previously worn by great players like George Best, Eric Cantona, David Beckham and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Did Sanchez choose United over City for the wages? After all, Sanchez who has repeatedly expressed his desires to win titles would have probably won the Premier League title this season if he had opted for a reunion with his former manager Pep Guardiola.

However, with all the history of the club and Manchester United’s aura to attract best players from all over the world, it would be a naive argument to suggest the player choosing money to come to one of the biggest clubs in the world. Sanchez has stated the offer to work with Jose Mourinho as something he could not turn down, in his first interview as a Manchester United player.

Regardless of the many debates surrounding the transfer, Manchester United have signed a ready-made superstar in Alexis Sanchez. While the move has seen the red half of Manchester triumph over the blue half in bringing the most prized asset of North London, this is a real signal of intent from Manchester United to get back to the top of the English football.

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