Manchester United: So who gets the better of the Sanchez/Mkitaryan deal?

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 10: Alexis Sanchez of Arsenal during the Carabao Cup Semi-Final First Leg match between Chelsea and Arsenal at Stamford Bridge on January 10, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 10: Alexis Sanchez of Arsenal during the Carabao Cup Semi-Final First Leg match between Chelsea and Arsenal at Stamford Bridge on January 10, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images) /

Alexis Sanchez moves from Arsenal to Manchester United in swap deal with Henrik Mkhitaryan who gets the best out of this transfer deal

So Alexis Sanchez will be going to Manchester United and not to City as everyone assumed with Henrik Mkhitaryan going the other way. But who will get the most out of this move?

Sanchez is not really an out-and-out striker and he seems best suited to playing off the front man or as part of a three-man attack, as he has been doing at Arsenal this season. So joining Manchester City seemed the right fit of course with their fluid attacking style, so reminiscent of the days of total football.

Of course the fact Sanchez played under Guardiola at Barcelona, was also supposed to be a factor. Now though with City out of any possible deal, Sanchez is now heading to Old Trafford instead.

Manchester City claimed the probable cost of any transfer fee and financial demands from the player and/or his agent were the reason for them pulling out. These seem to be unconvincing reasons for a club with City’s financial clout.

It doesn’t seem realistic that money would be a problem if they really wanted the player. So you have to ask if something else was behind their sudden cooling of interest?

I think Man City expected Sanchez would stay put until the summer and then leave Arsenal for free to join them. As soon as Manchester United entered the race for his signature, things changed.

Their willingness to offer Mkhitaryan as part of any deal also altered the situation. Perhaps City got caught out with this unexpected twist and Sanchez’s apparent desire for more immediate financial reward.

Also, it looks as though Gabriel Jesus is going to be fit to return much sooner than expected from his recent injury. So suddenly forking out a small fortune for a 29-year-old didn’t look like such a good idea. City’s priority would anyway appear to be in other areas, with the purchase of a midfielder or centre back still possible.

Whatever the real reasons for this turn of events it poses the question of if it is the right one for both and which club might benefit the most? Man Utd play a different game to both Arsenal and City, with a more rigid and defensive approach.

When the Red Devils break forward it’s in a more direct way than either of the other sides, playing longer balls into the channels for Romelu Lukaku to chase down. That’s not immediately going to suit Sanchez strengths, so will Utd change their approach?

It seems unlikely as Jose Mourinho adopts basically the same tactics everywhere he goes and his great self-confidence would seem to preclude any major change in approach, no matter what player joins his team! For Utd, signing a proven top class player with Sanchez’s quality and experience makes good sense, even if it creates a few more headaches for the manager in terms of how to fit all the attacking players into the team.

Sanchez might play in a three behind Lukaku? That though leaves Utd potentially a player short in midfield, where the tactic of giving Paul Pogba more of a free role behind the strikers has certainly paid dividends this season. Manchester United look a totally different side with his drive and creativity and they miss his influence badly when he’s out of the team.

It’s obvious Pogba won’t be making way for Sanchez and it’s inconceivable that Mourinho will drop his £90 million striker Lukaku. So then it would have to be one of the other forwards Marcus Rashford or Anthony Martial who makes way? However it works out, it should be interesting to see how this signing affects Man Utd’s play and their season.

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As for Arsenal, the ramifications are just as interesting. The potential arrival of Mkhitaryan could be a real bonus for them.

If they get the player who lit up the Bundesliga a few seasons ago, they will have a superb playmaker and goalscorer and a player who could replace Ozil in the team. With rumours of the arrival of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, (a player Mkhitaryan knowns well from his Dortmund days), it might be the case that long-term Arsenal get the better of this huge transfer deal.

Although as nearly everyone knows Arsenal need to focus on improved defensive solidity, this will probably have to wait until Arsene Wenger goes as it does not seem to be a priority for him. In the meantime Arsenal do need to refresh their team overall and bring in some new forward talent.

Next: Is Sanchez deal too expensive?

This is especially important with the departures of Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain and Theo Walcott to the Merseyside clubs, the continuing likelihood of Mesut Ozil going and Olivier Giroud in his early thirties. These additions and a rejuvenated Jack Wilshere might give Arsenal a real chance of successfully rebuilding and maintaining their premier league competitiveness. And crucially for the club’s financial strategy, stay in contention each season for the top four.