The January transfer window remains wide open but it’s fair to say that we already got more than we bargained for.
Philippe Coutinho leaving Liverpool for Barcelona was the first mouthwatering piece of the winter, although the Reds did well to respond with a high-value move for former Southampton defender Virgil van Dijk.
And as we wait for another wrinkle in the pond – read Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s move to Arsenal – here is a look at arguably most significant transfer (in the Premier League) this January.
Manchester United have made a huge statement of intent by aligning Alexis Sanchez from Arsenal, who ‘somewhat surprisingly’ rejected the expected move to Manchester City in favour of an Old Trafford switch.
The move comes as little surprise, however, knowing that the Chilean will be making £14 million a year after tax in his four-and-a-half deal with the Red Devils. Financial details like these were why Manchester City decided to pull out of the race in the end.
Manchester United reject Henrikh Mkhitaryan moved in the opposite direction as part of the Sanchez deal after only year-and-a-half spent in Manchester. Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger commented on the deal by saying the Gunners ‘lost a world-class player and got another world-class’ player but is that really the case?
United Get the Last Laugh
With all due respect to Armenia international Henrikh Mkhitaryan, comparisons with Alexis Sanchez – at this point in time at least – are out of place.
The 29-year-old Chilean made 27 appearances in all competitions this season, scored nine goals and provided three assists. On the contrast, the 29-year-old Armenian amassed 25 appearances across competitions with five goals and as many assists on his tally.
Having spent almost 400 minutes less on the pitch than Alexis Sanchez and made less of an impact to his side’s exploits during the 2017/18 season, Henrikh Mkhitaryan hides behind the favourable statistics.
In reality, however, he is a shadow of his former self and a player who only managed to display a couple of glimpses of his fabled Borussia Dortmund form. Today’s Mkhitaryan lacks confidence to display the same level of technical quality, creativity and vision which will be needed for a swift integration into his new team.
On the other side, Alexis Sanchez arrives as a finished article and a polished gem on top of his game and is expected to provide Manchester United’s sails with the gulfing wind going forward.
In a direct standoff between the two clubs, Manchester United most certainly fared better in the deal.
Alexis Sanchez a Potential Timebomb
When his head is fully in the game, Alexis Sanchez is one of those players every manager wants in his team. As a world-class forward he can bring much-needed energy to Manchester United and has all the prerequisites to reinvigorate United’s front line.
His last days at Arsenal, however, can be a huge omen for United fans. Alexis Sanchez often looked detached and a not fully focused and committed professional we got used to.
Sanchez’s wage package could potentially generate discontent within the Manchester United dressing room which is another aspect worth considering. Sanchez’s arrival has been an immediate push up to United’s attack but his motivation behind the Arsenal contract stand-off could provide some proof the Chilean is in for one last Premier League paycheck than a pop at honours, both which – in all honesty – he has bigger chances of achieving at United.
That said, with Alexis Sanchez on board, Manchester United can be backed at 17/1 to win the Champions League, a competition Chilean is happy to return into.
Lack of Consistency a Worry for Mkhitaryan
Let’s risk the wrath and claim that Henrikh Mkhitaryan actually isn’t a world class player cut out to succeed at the Premier League’s brightest stage.
A tricky player who dominated the Bundesliga turfs is a classic Wenger signing – an uneven and inconsistent player Arsenal seem to specialise in. If motivation and confidence proved to be a problem for the Armenian at United than imagine how these two things could affect his game as he prepares to get into a fight for ‘nothing more’ than top four.
Mkhitaryan has a potential to complement Mesut Ozil – and potentially replace him in the summer – but this remains the critical element knowing that his Manchester United disappointment turned into a serial spell.
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