Manchester United have finally got their man by signing Alexis Sanchez from rivals Arsenal. Yet another seemingly endless transfer saga has finished. Fellow Premier League giants Manchester City and Chelsea reportedly showed advanced interests in the Chilean; but Manchester United ultimately laid out the red carpet to bring him to Old Trafford. Sanchez’s reported wages have been the hottest topic among reporters, with some respecting his switch and others scrutinizing him heavily. Needless to say, the Chilean’s move to Old Trafford has shaken the footballing world, but how exactly will it affect Manchester United?
The various impacts of signing Alexis Sanchez
Money has undoubtedly taken over the game of football. Of the 15 most expensive transfers of all time, just two happened prior to 2013 – which speaks to global reach that football has realized in recent times. However, there is a negative aspect to football’s economic growth. We now analyze the intricacies of every transfer more than ever. This leads to questions surrounding not only a player’s motives, but the values and ambitions surrounding the club he is signing for. Sanchez’s switch to Manchester United has epitomized this case.
The fact of the matter is that Manchester United signing Alexis Sanchez has multifaceted implications. We can’t simply describe the transfer as either “good” or “bad.” In certain aspects, such as in the transfer market, valid questions can be raised about Manchester United’s methods. Conversely, when strictly looking at how Sanchez will integrate into Manchester United’s current system, the outlook is certainly more positive.
Transfer policies under Louis van Gaal and David Moyes were completely different. The Red Devils were seemingly linked to everyone rumoured to be available. However, Jose Mourinho has brought a much more disciplined approach to the fold. Targets are identified, courted and ultimately bought to fill a precise role in Mourinho’s plan.
Unfortunately, Manchester United may have jumped the gun by making a 29-year-old the Premier League’s highest paid player. If signing Alexis Sanchez was the final piece to the puzzle, that would explain his wages. However, Manchester United’s current squad still has areas of concern. They have recently posted the highest revenue in world football, meaning their wage structure is in no immediate danger. However, Alexis Sanchez has now set a precedent for world class players coming to Old Trafford in the future. This is where problems begin to arise.
For example, Manchester United have recently been linked with both Antoine Griezmann and Paolo Dybala. Both are younger than Sanchez and arguably more talented. Therefore, they theoretically offer more long term. So what is there stopping them from demanding higher wages than the Chilean? If Manchester United sign one of these stars, along with filling other holes in the team, the Red Devils’ weekly wage bill will soon increase drastically.
The hypothetical arrival of star players is just one side of the double-edged sword that is Manchester United’s wages. At the end of the 2018-19 season, over ten players will be in the final days of their contracts; many of whom are key players for Jose Mourinho. Luke Shaw, Phil Jones, Anthony Martial and David de Gea have all earned a contract extension and the raise which coincides. The first three all currently earn less than £100,000 per week and will be in search of six-figure salaries. The latter has become the best keeper in the world and will demand, at minimum, the same pay as Sanchez. The problem then multiplies the following season when Marcus Rashford (currently on £20,000 per week) and Eric Bailly (£75,000 per week) require their own extensions.
There is a solution to Manchester United’s impending problems. However, it involves being ruthless to players who may be quality, but don’t fit the system Mourinho has in place. There are presently far too many players who make much more than their current impact on the team is worth. Manchester United currently have ten first-team defenders, nine of whom make at least £70,000 per week. The same problem resides elsewhere, as all the midfielders (barring Scott McTominay) earn at least £75,000 per week. Frankly, this is far too much to be paying players who feature solely in the early rounds of domestic competitions.
Signing Sanchez has made him the bar to which other players will compare themselves. Players like De Gea and Pogba, who are integral to Manchester United’s success will receive healthy raises. For this to not skew their wage structure, the likes of Matteo Darmian, Daley Blind and Zlatan Ibrahimovic will ultimately have to depart; making room for younger, less expensive rotational players.
Style of Play
The Manchester United board may have given themselves a future headache by signing Sanchez. However, they have certainly made their manager a happy man by buying a player who he has long admired. Sanchez is a player who Mourinho will love having in his side, as his talent is only eclipsed by his tenacious style of play.
The major impact that the Chilean will have on Manchester United is in competition for places. Should United remain in a 4-2-3-1 formation, Sanchez, Lingard, Martial, Rashford and Mata will all be competing for three attacking spots. Sanchez will likely be one of the first names on the team sheet, along with Martial in his current form. Which leaves three players vying for the third and final spot. Both Mata and Lingard have played well recently, while Rashford is a mercurial talent with game changing ability in his boots. Every attacker is going to have to raise their game to remain in the starting XI with any sort of consistency.
Secondly, Sanchez’s arrival will allow more variety from Manchester United. He has achieved most of his success on the left wing. However, he spent significant time playing on the right wing with Barcelona and has more recently played in central roles with Arsenal – he is prolific in each position. This allows Manchester United to vary their points of attack during the match, as well as their formation. Sanchez has plenty of experience in both three and four-back systems.
Simply put, Manchester United saw an opportunity to bring a world-class talent into their ranks and they seized it. The intricacies of his finances can be debated frivolously, but if Sanchez brings prestigious titles back to Old Trafford, the deal will ultimately be validated.
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