Manchester United’s signing of Alexis Sanchez was a once-in-a-generation opportunity, according to former-Liverpool managing director Christian Purslow.
The Reds signed Sanchez just over midway through the January transfer window, as Henrikh Mkhitaryan joined Arsenal in a straight player-swap deal. In a move that most hailed a bargain and Man United manager Jose Mourinho outlined his delight with, Sanchez penned a four-and-a-half year deal at Old Trafford and no transfer fee was involved at all.
29-year-old Sanchez had been expected to sign for United’s local title rivals Manchester City either in the January window for a small fee or in summer when his contract at the Emirates was set to expire. United’s interest, and then success in prising him away from Arsenal and from the grasps of City, was a great shock.
“I don’t think they [anyone] did [expect Sanchez to sign for anyone but City]. I think everyone thought that was a done deal,” Purslow told Sky Sports News HQ.
“We will never quite know the sequence of events that led to that potential transaction winding away into a United purchase.”
As a former-managing director, Purslow described the events as ideal for Arsenal and United.
“It has the look from the outside, I don’t know this to be true, that Arsenal out of nowhere had their dreams come true.
“Rather than being in a unilateral discussion with City taking their best player nearly on a free they had a little auction going when Mourinho and Antonio Conte both spoke up in early January that actually getting Sanchez was a once in a generation opportunity to buy a top player for not much money down.”
United swooped in successfully. It could have been embarrassing had they not managed to complete the deal, but in the end, the Reds got the ideal outcome, and so did Arsenal, while City lost out.
Mourinho signed a world-class player for no fee, and rid himself of Mkhitaryan, a player with undoubted quality but who never found enough consistency at United and reportedly struggled mentally. Arsenal signed a potentially fantastic player in Mkhitaryan when they could have lost Sanchez for nothing in the summer.
“Brilliant outcome for United, pretty good outcome for Arsenal on balance but I suspect not a very happy camp at City around the way that deal was conducted,” Purslow said.