It’s hard to think of a more unproductive swap deal between two clubs than Alexis Sanchez and Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s move between Manchester United and Arsenal.
While United fans can be forever grateful for his second half performance at the Etihad the season before last to deny Manchester City claiming the title on derby day, his time at the club has been fairly disastrous. With just three Premier League goals and five in 45 appearances in all competitions, his return has been appalling for the astronomical wages he’s on. To give context, Odion Ighalo matched Sanchez’s goal tally for the club over one and a half seasons in just four starts, while Daniel James matched his league goal contribution in just his first four appearances.
Mkhitaryan, who had actually played a key role in our Europa League success the season before, had a limited impact in North London, with nine goals in 58 appearances, before also making a move to Italy on loan this season with Roma. He is set to spend next season in Serie A too with Arsenal extending his loan.
Inter Milan are keen to sign Sanchez permanently, after we have spent this season paying a large proportion of his wages, with a deal around £13m agreed between the two clubs and Sanchez accepting a reduction in salary.
However, Antonio Conte’s future at Inter is now in doubt, with him ending the campaign with a rant about the club’s hierarchy.
“Neither my work nor the players’ work was acknowledged, I found little protection from the club when making comparisons,” he said at the weekend. “If you want to reduce the gap with Juventus you have to be strong on the pitch but above all off it. We will have to talk to the president who is in China now. I don’t like people jumping on the bandwagon now, we have to be there for the good times and bad and this has not happened at Inter. I understand that, if you are weak, it is hard to protect your team and coach.”
Some reports have suggested that the manager may be set to return to Juventus, replacing Maurizio Sarri, who have just won the league in a less than convincing fashion. Conte was named manager of the year in each of the three seasons he spent with Juve, finishing top of Serie A every season. Question marks over his future with Inter could put the Sanchez transfer at risk, which was set to be announced after their Europa League game this week.
Freeing up Sanchez’s wage was certainly part of United’s plan when deciding to make the move for Borussia Dortmund’s Jadon Sancho. It looks as though that transfer will go through and United will pay in instalments. The prospect of the 20-year-old adding to United’s forward line of Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Mason Greenwood, who have over 60 goals between them this season, is mouth watering.
Having been reminded of our depressing past when playing against David Moyes’ West Ham a couple of weeks ago, looking at Sanchez and Romelu Lukaku at Inter gives us a glimpse at where we might be now if Jose Mourinho hadn’t been sacked. It would likely be Willian who was joining our attack this summer, not Sancho, so we should be grateful for how far we’ve come. But we need to sell Sanchez to keep moving in the right direction.
With or without Conte, it is Inter’s sporting director Beppe Marotta who has agreed on the Sanchez deal, so you would imagine there won’t be any bumps in the road. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer promised to get rid of the deadwood at United and Sanchez’s departure would be the latest example of the manager fulfilling his word!
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