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Alexis Sanchez is starting to show Manchester United what he can do

Alexis Sanchez left Arsenal for Manchester United during the January transfer window, with Henrikh Mkhitaryan heading in the other direction. The media made a field day about the player’s wage, which dependent on the journalists on the newspaper they write for, was very different – ranging from £250,000 to £600,000 per week, which suggests this was just part of the agenda shown against United week in and week out. Based on this, the first Chilean to play for the Old Trafford club had little chance of succeeding.

That is what many hoped anyway. The bitter Arsenal fans, who are so preoccupied with Manchester United and the ‘decline’ many of them suggest is still happening at the club, despite the fact that Arsenal are sixth in the Premier League, likely to miss out on European football next season, unless they win the UEFA Europa League and earn a place in the UEFA Champions League, or if they earn a Europa League qualification place through their league position.

When Mkhitaryan assisted three goals against Everton, the Arsenal faithful were full of themselves suggesting that it was them that got the best deal in the exchange, not United as Sanchez was not performing to the best of his abilities. Then when Mkhitaryan was invisible in their North London derby against Tottenham Hotspur, they saw the player they had signed, one who was not a big game player, despite putting in performances for United against Spurs on a few occasions, scoring against them at Old Trafford last season.

Sanchez has played 999 minutes of football for Manchester United since making the move north. In those 12 appearances in all competitions, the Chilean has scored just two goals, assisting five more, two against Manchester City at the Etihad on Saturday as United came back from two goals down with Paul Pogba scoring twice in two minutes and Chris Smalling scoring what turned into the winning goal. Against Swansea City, with Sanchez getting a goal and an assist, it seems to have been the point where the real Alexis Sanchez has come through.

Sanchez has made 35 appearances for both United and Arsenal this season, scoring 10 goals and assisting a further six goals – the majority of the assists whilst playing for United. Granted it is not the world-class performances many expected, but it shows that despite being 29, Sanchez still has a lot to give and achieve in football – let’s face it, he’s got more chance of achieving something great at United as the only thing he was doing at Arsenal was carrying them season after season.

The Chilean averages 2.9 shots, 2.5 key passes, and 2.6 dribbles per match, and is fouled an average of 2.6 times per match. His average rating this season has been 7.46, which is not all that bad. His passing could improve, currently around 73% of them meeting a teammate and he averages around 46.9 passes per game. Sanchez can play a number of positions for United and recently he has occupied the left-wing role, which has been favoured by both Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford.

Finding that position for Sanchez will be key. Jose Mourinho has stated that next season United will benefit from Sanchez. He seems to be fatigued this season and will get the summer off with Chile not qualifying for the FIFA World Cup in Russia, meaning that he will have plenty of time off before the club head to the United States of America on their pre-season tour, where they will face Club America and San Jose Earthquakes, with their participation in the International Champions Cup yet to be announced.

The Chilean has had a good start to his United career, could progress this season with six Premier League matches left to play and at least one Emirates FA Cup match with United having to take on Tottenham Hotspur in the semi-final at Wembley on Saturday 21st April 2018. This is the only opportunity for United to win a trophy this season, with Spurs, Chelsea and Southampton remaining in the competition this season. Come what may, next season should be where Alexis Sanchez becomes that player that many wanted to see at the club when he arrived in January.

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