The entrance of Manchester United into the contest for Alexis Sánchez’s affections was, perhaps, inevitable. He’s going relatively cheap, after all, and for United not to test the waters would amount to a dereliction of duty. We can presume that United are still second favourites behind Manchester City, who have been trying to sign the player for what feels like eternity, but theirs isn’t the only oversized chequebook in town. And there are some very good reasons for United to attempt to persuade the Chilean to come to Old Trafford.
Three reasons, in fact.
Here they are.
1. It would be really funny
It’s been clear for a while that Manchester United’s transfer policy has been in need of a direction. An identity. Managers have come in, bought some players, and then left, with the result that Jose Mourinho is managing a motley squad built in accordance with four distinct approaches to squad building. Well, three distinct approaches to squad building and whatever the hell David Moyes was up to. A kind of panicked lurch sideways to squad building, perhaps.
(Whether Mourinho is doing well at this task is, of course, a different question. Either way, it’s not ideal.)
The capture of Sánchez, then, would signal an end to this higgledy-piggledy nonsense, and would — taken as a piece with the summertime capture of Romelu Lukaku — signal the rise of a new, focused approach. In summary: annoying everybody else. Thought you had Lukaku, Chelsea? Nope! Thought you’d tempted Sánchez back to your loving, slightly-too-intense embrace, “Pep”? Whoops!
It’s clear by this stage that the Glazer family, and their functionary Ed Woodward, have neither the inclination nor the ability to make Manchester United into a coherent sporting entity. Transfers will continue to emerge from a strange coalition of scouting, management, and whatever Woodward dreams about when he isn’t dreaming about sponsored tractors. And given this, if you can think of a better way of stupidly spending stupid amounts of money than “weaponised trolling”, we’re not interested.
2. It would be really funny
Obviously annoying City is the main goal here — hey, United aren’t catching them in the league, and a win’s a win — but let’s not forget the place of Arsenal in all this. Indeed, wherever Sánchez ends up, that’s precisely the point: the reminder of Arsenal’s place in the grand scheme of things.
For the court of the Late Wengerian Empire is a rotting place: dust chokes the air, cobwebs tether the throne. Players come in hope, and while the mediocre and the inadequate make themselves comfortable among the faded tapestries and rotting silk, the great and the pretty good eventually realise that this is no a place for heroes. Not while the Emperor still sits on his throne, a gloomy shadow of a once-great leader. They take their lances and their banners and they move on to find cleaner air, a brighter countenance, and the fame and fortune they feel is their due. And this is all just as it should be.
3. Fine, fine, he’s a decent footballer as well
No Jesse Lingard, obviously, but he’s pretty good. United have at times lacked energy and buzziness in attack this season, and Sánchez, whatever else you think of him, scampers around an awful lot. In an Arsenal team that he clearly doesn’t rate, it can sometimes seem sarcastic and counter-productive, but presumably an escape from all that decay will give him a little more focus. Works for us. And even better — thanks, Arsenal! — he’s not cup-tied in the Champions League.
Get him in, Eddy.