Alexis Sanchez is undoubtedly talented and could help Manchester United right away, but with Man City so far out in front and younger players potentially missing out on minutes as a result of his arrival, what is the club's long-term strategy?

By 90Min
January 16, 2018

According to various reports, Manchester United are inching ever close to completing a deal for Arsenal's Alexis Sanchez. 

Of course, United fans are justifiably enthralled by the prospect of seeing Sanchez, Romelu Lukaku, Marcus Rashford, and Zlatan Ibrahimovic in the same side. The Chilean's versatility allows him to take up a position up front as well as on either wing. Moreover, Sanchez has proven equally adept in the No. 10 role - a position for which Jose Mourinho's options are limited at best.

However, the circumstances of United's potential transfer of Sanchez bear an uncanny resemblance to those of the storied club's signing of Robin van Persie in 2012. At the time, Van Persie, like Sanchez, was already 29-years-old. 

And in turn, it was no surprise that the Dutchman began a steep decline immediately following United's record title winning campaign under Sir Alex Ferguson.

In many ways, Ferguson's move for Van Persie broke his tradition of building squads for an extended stay of dominance, rather than a temporary, fleeting one. For instance, United signed both Wayne Rooney and Cristiano Ronaldo when the pair were just 18-years-old. 

Making such astute moves for mercurial young talents paid off in spades as Rooney went on to become the club's greatest goalscorer, while Ronaldo scored 84 goals in just six seasons with the Old Trafford club.

Now, it appears United are again building for the short-term as opposed to the long-term. Sanchez will undoubtedly add an attacking impetus to United's forward line, boasting immense technical ability and electric pace. 

But it must be said that Sanchez is nearing the end of his very successful career. His all action playing style is simply not one that can be consistently replicated as he heads into his early thirties. 

Aside from Sanchez's less than optimal age, the Arsenal player's reported arrival is likely to delay the development of Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial. With Lukaku being Mourinho's first choice up front, Sanchez may very well end up taking one of Rashford or Martial's places out wide for at least the next year, inhibiting the young attackers' growth in the process.

As a result, there is a significant danger of United becoming over-reliant on Sanchez's services, leaving Mourinho's side ill prepared to maintain a high level of play once Sanchez inevitably begins his decline.

If Mourinho and Co. manage to complete a deal for Sanchez, the Red Devils are likely to be viable title contenders come next season. However, there is a notable risk that United's brief period of success could be followed by a far longer spell of mediocrity.

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