The January transfer window was always expected to spring a couple of surprises but little did people imagine that the two Manchester giants will be involved in a transfer fracas and that in a strange way, Arsenal would arguably come out as the winner.
Yes, we are of course talking about the Alexis Sanchez and Henrikh Mkhitaryan swap deal which was initially expected to be just Alexis Sanchez moving to Manchester City and picking up his first Premier League title in May.
Well, we have come a long way since then and here, we will go through the pros and cons of possibly the greatest ever direct swap of players in the Premier League era.
Pros for Manchester United:
The Red Devils have struck gold with this particular move, which could be a decisive moment in their season. Alexis Sanchez is a player who is versatile enough to play anywhere in the attacking line, has loads of experience, gives everything for the team every single time he steps on to the field and they did not even have to pay a single penny for him!
Though the Red Devils parted ways with Henrikh Mkhitaryan, the Chilean is exactly the kind of player whom Jose Mourinho would love to manage on and off the field. Alexis Sanchez guarantees a significant number of goals and that would certainly take the attention and pressure off Romelu Lukaku to an extent. Jose loves to have tough guys with a never-say-die attitude in his squad and snatching him away from the hands of Pep Guardiola certainly shows that United still remain the boss in the transfer market.
P.S: Alexis Sanchez is NOT cup-tied for the Champions League and could probably be the factor that decides Manchester United’s chances in Europe when the knockout stages begin in February.
Cons for Manchester United:
There is not much to lose for the Red Devils from the arrival of Sanchez except for the fact that they have to dig deeper into their pockets to account for the Chilean’s wages. Also, super-agent Mino Raiola would not be happy with his client Mkhitaryan having to part ways with Jose’s team and one should just hope that he does not strike a rift by demanding an increase in wages of his other client Paul Pogba. Well, some reports have stated that and United might get into a bit of a sticky wicket regarding this.
Pros for Arsenal:
The Gunners have been on the receiving end of many cruel transfers over the years but contrary to the popular belief, Arsene Wenger did not come back empty-handed this time. Unlike previous instances, Arsenal have got an able and creative player in return for their star man. Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s arrival will surely heal the wounds (somewhat) and Arsene Wenger has a great talent to weave his magic on.
Moreover, unlike Mesut Ozil, who doesn’t have much time left on his contract, Mkhitaryan has a long time to spend with the club. Along with Alexandre Lacazette, he can determine the club’s success in the coming few years. Especially, considering the fact that Mesut Ozil looks set to leave when his contract runs out in the summer.
Cons for Arsenal:
Well, they have just let go of their most important player to a major direct rival. Arsenal’s incompetency in keeping hold of their important players in recent years indicate that the Gunners are losing their sheen when compared to the top teams in European football due to their perceived lack of ambition.
You ain’t keeping them if you ain’t winning them (trophies)!
Pros for Alexis Sanchez:
Sanchez, as a player, boasts of incredible passion and unmatched dedication towards his club and country. It is almost inevitable that the Chilean delivers his best even when the going gets tough. He can burst through the opposition backline with his energy and the desire to score that extra goal, or the urge to create THAT moment of magic. Unfortunately and undeservingly, the two-time Copa America winner has been deprived of the title glory for a long time.
Jose Mourinho is on a serious mission to take the Premier League title home; and if not this season, the Chilean will be the vital cog that decides’s Manchester United’s surge towards the title next season. Additionally, the glory of playing for Manchester United and donning that iconic number 7 jersey served up to an exciting prospect that Sanchez could simply have not rejected.
Right now, Manchester United’s and Alexis Sanchez’s ambitions are on the same path and as cringy as it might sound, this truly is a match made in heaven.
Cons for Alexis Sanchez:
It is extremely difficult to find any drawback for Alexis Sanchez in this deal. However, many talented players have crumbled under the pressure of wearing the number 7 jersey for Manchester United in recent years. In fact, the Red Devils haven’t had a worthy heir ever since Cristiano Ronaldo left for Real Madrid. So, the pressure will be there but he has the capability to rise above it.
Pros for Henrikh Mkhitaryan:
Henrikh Mkhitaryan was largely unsettled at Manchester United, despite getting a number of chances to prove his credentials. Once the Bundesliga player of the season, the Armenian never cemented his place in the starting lineup for the Red Devils. He was influential and very important in United’s Europa League triumph last season as he top-scored with six goals in the competition.
However, Jose Mourinho’s reactive approach and sometimes regressive way of playing, did not go down well with him. Mkhitaryan wants space and possession of the ball to showcase his creativity. He is good at finding spaces, dribbling past defenders and cracking open tough and compact defences. At Arsenal though, Arsene Wenger can provide him with the foundation to reinvent himself.
The Gunners play a free-flowing brand of football and that can suit Mkhitaryan’s style of play. Moreover, a chance of playing in England will give him the opportunity to redeem himself and prove his doubters wrong.
Cons for Henrikh Mkhitaryan:
Keeping all the fandom aside, a move to Arsenal from Manchester United is a step down for sure. The Armenian won’t have the opportunity to play in the Champions League this season and by the looks of it, Wenger’s men could miss out on the top four spots next season also. Mesut Ozil plays in the same number 10 position that Mkhi thrives in. Though the Armenian can drift wider on the pitch, his best performances come when he plays just behind the striker.
An expected conundrum over here, eh?