When Manchester United sent the underwhelming Henrikh Mkhitaryan to Arsenal in part exchange for the Gunners’ then best player Alexis Sánchez, we laughed and laughed. How funny! Yet again, we snapped up Arsenal’s star attacker on a cut price deal, and even managed to annoy City in the process. Ha ha HA. That turned out to be a chastening lesson: Just because an idea is very funny, it doesn’t mean that it’s good. This “blockbuster swap” turned out to be a crushing disappointment for everyone involved.
While Arsenal may be stuck with their own flop for now, United are desperately seeking a way to offload theirs. It’s all well and good if Mkhi prances about only occasionally looking useful down in London, but up in Manchester, Alexis is doing even less than that, and doing it for the sum of up to TWO MILLION POUNDS A MONTH. Good grief, Ed Woodward, you buffoon. As such, the desire to get the sulky, washed up Chilean off the club’s books has been high up on the club’s agenda this summer.
The wages are only part of the problem, however. Alexis Sánchez is now known to have been a lonely figure in the Arsenal dressing room, which — if that figure is your best player and perhaps the best player in the league — who cares? But Alexis is similarly withdrawn and moody at United, which presents a different challenge given his current state. A frustrated former superstar on an outrageous contract, raging against the passage of time while he is surpassed in the pecking order by younger and less illustrious teammates is a veritable powder keg in a dressing room that is still trying to right itself after the tumultuous José Mourinho era. In short, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has good reason to not want the sad sack around the place.
Enter: AS Roma. The capital club are said to interested in acquiring the services of United’s no. 7 (that shirt was cursed once we let Michael Owen wear it) on loan, but less interested in paying his eye-watering wages. As a compromise, reports say (don’t click here, it’s The Sun) that United are willing to subsidize part of his salary just to be able to get rid. For his part, Sánchez is said to be keen on a return to Serie A, a league that he knows and in which he enjoyed perhaps his finest years while playing for Udinese.
There are still over two weeks left in the European transfer market, so United have time to find a solution to this problem of their own making.