How Alexis Sanchez would fit in at Man United as club launch £25m bid

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Manchester United are in desperate need of reinforcements to challenge for silverware this season and have set their sights on Alexis Sanchez to do just that.

Jose Mourinho has launched a £25m bid for the Arsenal contract rebel to hijack Manchester City‘s pursuit of the Chilean, according to reports.

Although Pep Guardiola may already have the Premier League title wrapped up, the FA Cup and perhaps even the Champions League remains in sight for the Red Devils.

Having struggled with a string of poor results in the league in December, Sanchez would add more firepower to the Old Trafford outfit’s attack.

Here’s how the 29-year-old could fit in at United.

ON THE FLANKS

Out wide is where Sanchez has done his best work. His pace and trickery means he’s a nightmare for full-backs while his incredible work-rate will no doubt be welcomed by Mourinho who values industrious wide players.

At Arsenal, he’s proved that his delivery into the box is excellent but it’s when he cuts inside from the left onto his stronger foot that he’s most dangerous but he’s comfortable playing from the right side as well.

His close control and dribbling often sees him leave defenders in his wake as he goes on a driving run through the heart of the opposition’s defence.

While his lethal sharp-shooting from range has been a hallmark of his prolific spell at Arsenal, his link-up play has really come to the fore as well, as has his movement in the final third.

Sanchez is notorious for his clever diagonal runs in behind the full-back to go clean through on goal. He brings a level of consistency, experience and explosiveness from wide areas that United lack at the moment.

AS A NUMBER 10

The former Barcelona player has even featured as an attacking midfielder and given the poor form of Henrikh Mkhitaryan in particular, that’s a role he may well be asked to play.

Typically, he isn’t thought of as a number 10 but he’s a far more creative and accomplished passer than he’s given credit for. With a big target man like Romelu Lukaku ahead of him as well, Sanchez is the ideal opportunist to play off him and feed of the scraps.

You only have to look at the way he’s combined with Olivier Giroud in the last few seasons at Arsenal, playing one-twos and getting on the end of knock-downs.

He would also bring plenty of energy into that central area of the pitch and if afforded space within range, he can be lethal. Playing as a number 10 also means that he’s always involved. While he can be a peripheral figure over periods in games when used out wide or up front, in this role he’s in the eye of the storm.

United have often toiled to breakdown lesser oppositions this season but with Sanchez through the middle, his directness means that instead of finding that eye of the needle pass, a weaving run or pop at goal can make all the difference. He brings a different dimension to the position.

STRIKER

Arsene Wenger has often used the Chilean as a striker at Arsenal, sometimes much to the chagrin of Giroud or last summer’s big-money buy Alexandre Lacazette.

But such is Sanchez’s overall quality that, in big games especially, it pays to have your best player on the end of the chances you create.

Playing up front, he never allows the centre-backs a moment’s peace, running the channels, chasing down every lost cause and relentlessly closing down to stop them playing out from the back.

His pace also makes him absolutely devastating on the counter-attack while he’s more than useful in the air despite his diminutive frame.

Mourinho has experimented with playing Lukaku alongside Zlatan Ibrahimovic a couple of times this season with little success but with Sanchez, the two-pronged attack is certainly a feasible option.

On the other hand, he could even afford the Belgian some much needed rest by leading the line on his own.

WHO HE WOULD REPLACE?

Instead of just the one player, there are several players who could see their playing time cut down should United rope in Sanchez.

Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial have alternated on the left flank. Sanchez’s arrival would see both players’ time in that position significantly lessened.

Mkhitaryan is out of favour as it is with Jesse Lingard and Juan Mata being preferred instead and the Armenian could be set to fall even further down the pecking order.

Lingard in particular has stepped up and been in fine form over the last month or so but it will be interesting to see how the Englishman would be accommodated if Sanchez walked through the Old Trafford doors.

Out of favour: Henrikh Mkhitaryan

Out of favour: Henrikh Mkhitaryan

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RB Leipzig again rule out early Naby Keita Liverpool move

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Leipzig have ruled out a January exit for Keita.

RB Leipzig on Thursday again told Liverpool that Naby Keita will not be moving before next season, amid reports the Merseyside club want the Guinea midfielder immediately to replace Philippe Coutinho.

Keita, 22, already has a contract with Liverpool which comes into effect on July 1, but having completed the sale of Brazil star Coutinho to Barcelona on Monday for 160 million euros ($192 million), Liverpool are reportedly keen to bring Keita to Merseyside early.

The Germans issued another firm “hands off” ahead of the end of the Bundesliga winter break this weekend.

“We have always said that there is no reason for us to let him go sooner. Therefore he will be playing for us against Schalke at the weekend and hopefully playing well,” said Leipzig coach Ralph Hasenhuettl on Thursday.

In November, RB Leipzig also ruled out Keita joining Liverpool earlier than planned.

Countinho’s departure has changed the situation at Liverpool. German daily Bild report the Reds are prepared to pay 15 million euros extra to sign Keita this month.

German magazine Kicker says Keita has not been impressing in training in a bid to force the German club’s hand.

Kicker say RB Leipzig will get 75 million euros ($90m, £66.7) for Keita if they qualify directly for the Champions League next season, which will drop to 65 million euros if they fail to qualify for Europe.

The German club, who are fifth in the Bundesliga, have repeatedly said they need their midfield dynamo to help them qualify again for the Champions League.

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Alexis Sanchez and other players Man City could sign in January

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Having finished trophyless in his first season at Manchester City, Pep Guardiola will be hoping to mark his second season in England with some silverware.

With success in both the Premier League and Champions League paramount for his side, City will need to keep his squad fit for the second half of the season if they are convert their strong from into silverware.

Here, we look at three acquisitions that would be most welcome to Pep’s first-team make-up.

Will any of these deals happen?

Let us know using Twitter and via Facebook.

ALEXIS SANCHEZ

The prolific Chilean striker was the key man for Arsenal last summer but, having stalled on a new contract, looked set to leave despite scoring seven goals and providing three assists in 19 matches this season.

Sanchez’s contract at the Emirates Stadium is up at the end of the season and Guardiola is confident of acquiring the 29-year-old for a cut-off fee this month, although Manchester United have made a late attempt to hijack the deal.

A knee injury to Gabriel Jesus has given the club a push to land Sanchez in a bid to bolster their attacking options as they continue to compete on all fronts this term.

Sanchez’s greatest asset is his pace and eye for goal, an area that could add more firepower to an already star-studded forward line featuring Sergio Aguero, Raheem Sterling and Jesus.

Imagine the frightening prospect of Sanchez lining up alongside Aguero for the second half of the season.

JONNY EVANS

West Brom centre back Jonny Evans has been the subject of heavy interest from Manchester City as Pep Guardiola seeks cover for an injury-stricken defence.

The highly-rated Northern Irishman is a man in demand, and City will have to fend off interest from Arsenal to land the star defender.

A fee of £25m should be enough to get the deal over line this month – although Baggies boss Alan Pardew will do all he can to keep the 30-year-old at the Hawthorns.

With John Stones still very much learning on the job at the heart of the City backline and add to that Vincent Kompany’s constant injury problems, Evans’s leadership qualities would make him a fearsome addition at the Etihad Stadium.

A move to the Sky Blues would guarantee the potential to win trophies, but it is unlikely he will see first team action on a regular basis if both men are fit.

JULIAN WEIGL

The German has cemented himself as a key player for Borussia Dortmund since joining from 1860 Munich in 2015.

One of the hottest properties in the Bundesliga, Weigl’s understanding of the game is beyond his years making the epitome of the Dortmund team.

The 22-year-old has only made 16 appearances for Dortmund this season after returning from a broken ankle suffered last May, but looked sharp in recent wins over Mainz and Werder Bremen.

From intercepting the opposition’s attacks to setting his side away on the counter, the midfielder looks like an instrumental presence with Guardiola keen to add his services to his outstanding side.

With Yaya Toure and Ferdinandho both out of contract in the summer, Weigl could come in as a long term replacement for the Manchester club.

At 22, his best years are yet to come, which represents another significant boost for the Sky Blues going forward.

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