In acquiring Alexis Sanchez, Manchester United have obtained one of world football’s most devastating forwards. Here, we delve a little deeper into the Chilean superstar’s glittering career and highlight seven reasons why his arrival will excite Reds everywhere…
To start with the basics, and to put it bluntly, Alexis guarantees goals. The powerful, bustling forward not only bangs them in with abandon, but also sets them up appetisingly for his fellow team-mates. And he does both with rapacious regularity. Only Harry Kane was directly involved in more goals (36) during last season’s Premier League, but Alexis was just two behind the Spurs man, notching 24 strikes of his own and playing the decisive pass for his colleagues on ten occasions. Take a gander at a reel of his contributions and you’ll see a dizzying menagerie of delectable through-balls, whipped crosses, predatory tap-ins, thundered volleys, free-kicks and headers. In short, if there’s a route to goal, he can find it.
2: MR VERSATILE
United already possess a wealth of attacking talent, but Alexis's adaptability will be vital to Jose Mourinho. At Barcelona and Arsenal, he played on both the right and left flanks, as a lone striker, and just behind a frontman. At the end of 2017, Mourinho hinted that he would liked to have rested Romelu Lukaku at certain points during the season, but had been unable to due to Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s injury difficulties. Sanchez’s potency in a number of attacking positions gives the boss an abundance of fresh options.
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Despite his diminutive stature, Alexis' tenacity and indefatigable spirit make him an inspiring presence. His hounding of opposition defenders and terrier-like thirst to chase lost causes can set the tone for team-mates and implore crowds to rise to their feet. Check out the 2-0 defeat Chile meted out to world champions Spain at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil: the high pressing of Sanchez, Arturo Vidal and co set a feral pace that left David Silva, Andres Iniesta and a host of other famous talents gasping for breath.
4: A TOUGH COOKIE
Stories of pain-defying heroism abound through football history, and Alexis has one of his own. After a crashing early challenge from Argentina defender Gabriel Mercado, he dragged his battered left ankle through 100 further minutes of the 2016 Copa America final, before being substituted in extra time. Chile won the game, on penalties, so all’s well that ends well, but Sanchez later posted a picture on Twitter displaying some gargantuan swelling. Commitment and bravery shouldn’t be an issue.
Alexis: This is a powerful clubVideo
The last player to join from Arsenal, Robin van Persie, celebrated his 29th birthday just days before signing a four-year deal in August 2012. Sanchez reached the same milestone in December and, like RvP, rocks up with his most prolific goalscoring season yet just behind him. Famously, the Dutchman’s immediate impact and 26 league goals helped United regain the title in 2012/13. Could Alexis be equally influential?
6: TIME TO ACCLIMATISE
While the Chilean will doubtless be ready to hit the ground running at a ferocious pace, the reality is that only 15 Premier League matches remain this season. But the upside is that the next few months offer Alexis valuable time to get to know his new team-mates, bed into the side and attune to the unique challenges of playing for United. Such an opportunity proved invaluable for Nemanja Vidic and Patrice Evra, after the pair joined in January 2006; both were title-winners by the end of their first full season in red.
The full breadth of his impact on a Premier League season might not be felt until 2018/19, but Alexis is eligible to play in the remainder of United’s UEFA Champions League campaign. The forward’s time at Barcelona bisected their 2011 and 2015 triumphs, while Arsenal have not progressed beyond the last 16 since 2009/10. But he joins a manager, in Mourinho, bidding to become only the third in history after Bob Paisley and Carlo Ancelotti to claim three European Cups. Reds everywhere will hope the new Alexis-Mourinho alliance can lead to number four in Kiev, Ukraine, come May.