So, at long last, it’s done. Alexis Sanchez has finally packed his things, and shipped out of Arsenal after a seemingly eternal speculation.
From the moment Sanchez wore that look of anguish on his face in Munich last February, it started to seem obvious that his head no longer belonged in North London; first Chelsea were the first Premier League side to be linked, then it seemed inevitable that Manchester City would snap him up both in the summer and in this window, but the Chilean has ended up on the other part of Manchester.
We are delighted to announce the signing of @Alexis_Sanchez from Arsenal.
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) January 22, 2018
Manchester United proved to be the eventual destination for Sanchez, in a swap deal that sees Henrikh Mkhitaryan go the other way, reports suggests Sanchez chose United over City as a result of the increased wages on offer at Old Trafford. That might be true, but there’s no shadow of a doubt that United have acquired a great player, who, at 29, is quite at his peak, and who seems hell-bent on a fresh start – anywhere but continue at Arsenal, a game changer who could turn dour stalemates into narrow wins.
And while Arsenal have lost a key player in the ranks, as they showed against Crystal Palace on Saturday, it may well be an opportunity for the others to step up, and in Mkhitaryan, they have an arch-creator, one probably in need of a reset in his Premier League career. The Armenian captain only created 10 goals in his 18-month spell at United, but provided over 20 in his final campaign at Borussia Dortmund, the high pressing game at the Bundesliga club, which was only used sporadically by Jose Mourinho at Old Trafford and is likely to be employed frequently at the Emirates, seems to suit him well.
— Arsenal FC (@Arsenal) January 22, 2018
So who stands to benefit the most from this deal? For United, they’ve captured a game changer, who has arguably been the best player in the league for the past three seasons. For Arsenal, there is a removal of the unrest and (a fair bit of) toxicity that came with Sanchez’s desire to leave. For Sanchez, he joins a side chasing every form of silverware (if not this season). And for Mkhitaryan, it’s the opportunity of working under a manager who’s more of a hand-on-the-shoulder than a hair-dryer, a condition which, if his time with Thomas Tuchel at Dortmund is anything to go by, he thrives in.
Time will tell, of course, but it seems a win-win situation all round, for all parties.