WHAT THE PAPERS SAY
Manchester United are looking to bolster their strike force in the January transfer window and are reported to have made inquiries about signing Jamie Vardy from Leicester City and Javier Hernandez from West Ham, according to the Telegraph.
Vardy missed out on the golden boot in the 2015-16 season by one goal and already has nine in this campaign, while Hernandez played at Old Trafford between 2010 and 2015.
Liverpool are looking to offload Daniel Sturridge – but want £30m for the striker, the Liverpool Echo reports. Sturridge, 28, is looking to leave Anfield during the transfer window for first-team football as he bids to be part of England’s World Cup squad.
Meanwhile, Jurgen Klopp wants to bring in Leicester and Algeria winger Riyad Mahrez as a replacement for Philippe Coutinho, the Daily Express reports.
Antonio Conte is to leave the Chelsea hot seat at the end of the season, the Daily Mail says. The paper reports that the new Stamford Bridge boss could be Massimiliano Allegri, who is currently at Juventus, or former Barcelona coach Luis Enrique. Former boss Carlo Ancelotti is not in the frame despite winning the double in 2010, it is reported.
Everton are prepared to pay £20m for Arsenal’s Theo Walcott, according to the Telegraph. Walcott, 28, could call time on his 12-year stay at the Emirates after being left on the bench when his side took on Chelsea, the paper said.
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PLAYERS TO WATCH
Manchester United will put a bid in for Borussia Dortmund’s Christian Pulisic if their Premier League rivals also express an interest, according to the Independent.
The Old Trafford side are also mulling a bid for Shakhtar Donetsk’s Brazilian midfielder Fred, according to the Daily Record.
This latest revelation on the January transfer window has raised several questions.
Here, Sport360’s Brendon Netto provides a few answers.
SANCHEZ OR OZIL THE PRIORITY?
For months, a reunion for Jose Mourinho and Mesut Ozil has been on the cards only for United to move for Sanchez instead.
Arsenal aren’t going to sell both players to the Red Devils so they’re going to have to prioritise.
During Paul Pogba’s absence, United’s lack of creativity was palpable and recruiting Ozil would go some way to rectifying that.
On paper though, even if the unreliable Henrikh Mkhitaryan is shown the door, United do have creative options in Juan Mata and perhaps Jesse Lingard given the latter’s recent form.
Let’s not forget their ongoing pursuit of Antoine Griezmann either and to a lesser extent, that of Paulo Dybala. Not to mention the impressive Andreas Pereira on loan at Valencia who is widely expected to be part of United’s first team squad next term.
Mourinho made it clear that he landed three out of four of his summer targets and it’s a poorly kept secret that Ivan Perisic was the one that got away, a left winger.
It stands to reason then that the Portuguese is desperate to make up for that failure and landing Sanchez would more than accomplish that. Clearly, the United boss believes a quality winger should be top priority.
JUST A PLOY BY ARSENAL TO RAISE THE TRANSFER FEE?
This is very likely. United are used time and time again to drive up a player’s transfer fee. However, if this is indeed Arsenal’s strategy, it’s ill-advised.
Sanchez may be desperate to leave the Gunners, reunite with Pep Guardiola and win trophies with City but the Citizens are hardly pining for the 29-year-old.
Of course, they want Sanchez. He would improve their squad, just like he would any in Europe. But the transfer only really makes sense for City if it’s a bargain. Pay any more than they’re already willing and it won’t be.
Guardiola has a wealth of attacking talent at his disposal. Even taking Gabriel Jesus’ injury into consideration, they boast an embarrassment of riches. They’re on course to stroll to the Premier League title, are one result away from a League Cup final and are among the frontrunners in the Champions League.
Come the summer, they will be able to cherry pick the best attacking talent Europe has to offer. Why then pay over the odds for a 29-year-old on enormous wages with six months left on his contract? There’s no need for that sort of desperation.
United on the other hand would give an arm and a leg – roughly translating to £25m, a salary package upwards of £300,000 and Henrikh Mkhitaryan – to recruit someone of Sanchez’s calibre and experience.
Hence, it’s possible that United’s interest is indeed genuine.
WHICH IS THE BETTER OPTION FOR SANCHEZ?
Simply put – City.
Yes, at United he would be afforded a starring role, fans would fawn over him, he’d probably don the famous number 7 jersey and be remembered for lifting the curse that’s been attached to it since Cristiano Ronaldo’s departure.
But at City, he’d have a Premier League winner’s medal around his neck within months.
There’s also the Guardiola factor of course. He’s eager to play under the Spaniard again and will enjoy City’s free-flowing approach.
At 29 though, Sanchez needs to make the most of the time he has at the top and at City, he can do just that. United on the other hand are very much a work in progress, a step up from Arsenal no doubt, but the Blue half of Manchester is where the finished article lies.
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.
— Gunners.com (@Gunner5com) November 23, 2017
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.
OH MY WORD MATE
WHAT A PASS!!!!!!
— inplayboss👔 (@Inplayman2) June 9, 2017
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.
Alexis Sánchez’s goal 😍 Notice the 21-pass build-up. pic.twitter.com/wvYUGl6sV0
— Fouad (@FouadAFC) October 29, 2016
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.