Alexis Sanchez’s career as a Manchester United player is over, with the club confirming his exit earlier.
Sanchez leaves on a high after finding form for Inter over the past few weeks. For United, this is a big step forward to get his gargantuan salary off our books.
The move for the Chilean was one which just didn’t work out. He was signed in a swap deal for Henrikh Mkhitaryan, and the one saving grace has been that the Armenian suffered similarly poor fortunes at Arsenal.
From Sanchez’s debut in a United shirt against Tottenham he looked a little lost, with no obvious place for him in United’s side. He seemed to lack an explosive yard of pace which helped his previous success, and his final performance for the club in a 1-1 draw away at Huddersfield in 2019 summed up how poor his time at the club had been.
There were a few positive moments for Sanchez at United. Not too many, but enough to briefly reminisce about.
Who can forget Alexis Sanchez arriving in a blaze of glory, with him unveiled playing a piano.
It seemed like a great idea at the time, although looking back it summed up the needless excess of the deal.
But for one brief moment, as Arsenal fans went into collective meltdown, United supporters could dream that we had signed the next Robin van Persie to put us back into title contention.
This was a moment of hope, and after beating City to his signature we began to believe we were back on track.
Beating City in their own backyard
With City leading United 2-0 in 2018, they were poised to win the title at The Etihad. Their fans were already getting carried away.
Chris Smalling and Paul Pogba (2) scored the goals, but it was Alexis Sanchez who provided the inspiration.
Sanchez provided two assists to delay City’s title party and ruin their day, while offering a reminder that he was still a player capable of stepping up at big moments.
The FA Cup semi-final
Another big moment in Sanchez’s first half season at United, the Chilean stepped up to score at Wembley in a Jose Mourinho masterclass against Tottenham.
Sanchez netted a header to equalise Dele Alli’s early strike, before Ander Herrera went onto score a winner.
This set Sanchez up to try and end his first season with a trophy. It ended badly, with a 1-0 final defeat to Chelsea, but this singular moment was one which provided a brief celebration.
Winner against Newcastle
Jose Mourinho went into the Premier League clash at home to Newcastle in October 2018 with rumours swirling over his job.
The game began poorly with United going two goals down. Goals from Juan Mata and Anthony Martial drew us level in the second half, before Sanchez popped up in injury time to score a late header.
Sanchez’s goal merely extended Mourinho’s stay at United by a couple of months. It was the least he could do for the manager who had far higher hopes for him.
Scoring against Arsenal
Arsenal fans had delighted in Sanchez’s failure at United, despite their own problems with Mkhitaryan.
When he was named in the starting line-up at The Emirates for a FA Cup tie in January 2019, it was inevitable he would score, and he did.
Sanchez opened the scoring after 31 minutes, before Jesse Lingard double the lead moments later. United went on to win the game 3-1.
We can only hope his ability to score against his former clubs does not come back to haunt us now if we face Inter in the Europa League final.
It may seem churlish, but Sanchez’s exit is a huge sigh of relief where United are concerned.
He never justified his super-high wages, and his salary became a drain on the club’s resources.
Even this season while at Inter, United have been paying £175,000 per week towards his wages.
United just needed to cut ties, and now we have done, his exit frees up salary space for new additions.
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