Jose Mourinho has spoken of how Alexis Sanchez cut a “sad” figure during his time at Manchester United.
The Chilean, so successful at Barcelona and Arsenal, joined Man United in January 2018 as part of a swap deal involving Henrikh Mkhitaryan, much to the excitement of supporters.
His time at Old Trafford, however, was an unmitigated disaster, with the forward managing just two goals last season and ultimately falling out of favour under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, which prompted him to join Inter Milan on loan.
Reflecting on Sanchez’s time at Old Trafford, Mourinho told the Telegraph that there was a perceptible sadness plaguing the 30-year-old from within.
“Sanchez… I felt him [to be] not a happy man,” he said. “And I think in every job you have when you are not happy it is not so easy to perform at every level. And maybe I am wrong. Maybe it was me who was not capable to get into him and to get the best out of him.
“As a manager sometimes you have the capacity to get the best out of the players and other times you are not successful in that approach. But the reality is that I always felt [of Sanchez], ‘a sad man’. So probably in Italy he will recover this. I hope he can. I always wish well to every player.”
Of course, Sanchez’s problem at United was never solely technical. If anything, the technical issues are probably an epiphenomenon, a side effect, stemming from a deeper, more interminable malaise which cannot be medically diagnosed but smacks right off the page.
Even from behind our TV screens, you could see it. Sanchez, for whatever reason, has lost a sense of vitality, a zest for life, that you need in order to do anything to a high standard.
You only hope that, on a human level, he finds a new lease of life in Italy, where he kickstarted his career a decade ago.