In my opinion, Alexis Sanchez has long been tailor-made for Manchester United. Even in his days in Serie A with Udinese, the Chilean once dubbed the 'Nino Maravilla' ('wonder kid') has looked like the sort of player suited for the famous red shirt. You could even go as far as to say the famous red no.7 shirt.
Witness his on-field frustration at Bournemouth last season, when refusing to celebrate Olivier Giroud's equaliser because he still believed there was time to get a winner the Gunners still, in the overall scheme of things, required. Sanchez's colleagues also have pointed out how competitive he is in training - it's a good trait to have.
In that summer of 2010, while working for the News of the World, a South American contact from my time with planetfootball.com had flagged up a story in El Tercera, one of the leading Chilean sources, which claimed Sanchez had told an international colleague that his heart was set on joining United. It was not the lead in the article but featured alongside pictures of the national team in training.
The team-mate was not named but I decided to cover it for the newspaper and hoped it would be proved to be correct. It has been interesting to see that story resurface recently on other websites, almost eight years on, while the talk around a possible deal continued. At least, given what Alexis told MUTV in his first interview, I finally know it was true!
“Manchester United are a great side and, along with Real Madrid, are the most prestigious club in the world. You know if you join Manchester United and are there for any length of time you will win things.”
David Silva, then of Valencia, also once claimed:
“When a club like Manchester United is interested in you, it is an honour. If the Premier League came calling, especially if it was a club like United, it would be very hard to resist.”
Like Suarez and Silva, Sanchez did not go to United. He went to Barcelona, even though the word at the time seemed to be that Manchester City were offering a bigger fee and salary. The lure of the Catalan giants is often huge for Latin players and he linked up with Pep Guardiola's side, only to be sold to Arsenal.
It might be later than I had originally expected but, while still in his twenties, Alexis Sanchez is finally a Manchester United player.
I cannot wait for him to justify my long-held belief that he is absolutely perfect for this club and belongs here.
The opinions in this story are personal to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Manchester United Football Club.