Alexis Sanchez was signed to much fanfare from Arsenal in January 2018 but it hasn’t gone according to the script for the Chilean who has struggled to find his feet at Old Trafford.
Courted by his former Barcelona boss Pep Guardiola, Manchester United beat Manchester City to the signature of the Chilean. Yet, that victory has proved a hollow and expensive one.
United made the Chilean the highest earner in the Premier League history by offering him a four-and-a-half year contract, worth over £300,000 a week, with image rights and bonuses taking that above £500,000.
Questions remain as to the exact motivation behind the January signing. To some, Mourinho’s sudden interest in Sanchez was more about gazumping City than it was about finding Sanchez to be the right fit.
United already had two potentially excellent players in Martial and Rashford vying for a spot on the left-hand side of the attack. To add Alexis Sanchez into the mix only complicated matters. Now, plenty are questioning the wisdom of that decision.
Sanchez was all set to leave Arsenal for City until Guardiola pulled the plug on the deal, leaving the way clear for Manchester United.
Guardiola felt that offering wages of more than £300,000 per week to the Chilean would have destabilized the club’s wage structure and sparked a domino effect in the dressing room of players demanding vastly inflated salaries.
The repercussion of that signing are now being keenly felt by Man United bosses.
David de Gea‘s contract stand-off is the most obvious example. The Spanish shot-stopper is now seeking parity with Sanchez .
Many have attributed de Gea’s sudden dip in form and some very conspicuous errors to an ongoing contract saga between the Red Devils and the player’s agent. With just a year left on his current contract, United are desperate to keep hold of their star goalkeeper. But Manchester United's chances of keeping de Gea look remote if they don’t match PSG reported £350,000 a week offer.
Paul Pogba is another big name who is bargaining for a significantly higher wage.The spectre of Real Madrid lurking in the background has only exacerbated matters.
It is not just the big names; there is an impact right across the board. Ander Herrera and Juan Mata want more than the club are currently willing to pay.
United now find themselves in a position what their neighbours feared; a risk to dressing room harmony in addition to financial concerns.
If City’s decision to withdraw from the race to sign Sanchez can be viewed as shrewd, United‘s decision to agree to Sanchez’s demands can easily be slammed as the worst piece of transfer business by a Premier League side for years.
It has led many to question the credentials of Ed Woodward; the man responsible for green-lighting the Sanchez deal. If City could forsee the problems, Woodward should have seen it too.
Woodward has doubtlessly struggled to match David Gill’s impact as Chief Executive and maybe it’s time the United board make it their number one priority to find a new Chief Executive.