Jose Mourinho has come out in support of Alexis Sanchez as criticism was levelled at the attacker after a slow start to life at Manchester United, but the Red Devils boss did admit the Chilean would not be at his best until next season.
The 29-year-old has failed to live up to the high expectations following his move from Arsenal in January, as he has netted just one goal in his eight appearances for the club to date as his inability to keep possession dominates the headlines.
Mourinho recognises Sanchez has yet to show the Old Trafford faithful what he is truly capable of and attributes the timing of his transfer as a key contributing factor to his lacklustre form, which he expects to dramatically improve after a full pre-season with the club.
"Are we getting the best out of Sanchez? No. He came at the worst moment of the season, in the winter market. That’s why I don’t like the winter market very much and why we don’t believe in it a lot," Mourinho said, as quoted by the Express.
"But it was a chance that we didn’t want to lose and we made the deal. Of course, he is learning how to play with us and we are learning how to get the best out of him. And for sure next season will be better for him.”
Although Mourinho acknowledge his team have weaknesses but he could not place any fault on Sanchez's lack of fitness and work ethic as his intent remains at a high level despite failing to reap the rewards.
Mourinho added: "I don’t consider that a weakness – I consider that a huge potential to be developed. That’s something that we can develop and we’re going to develop with time, with experience and living these experiences together.
“Is he trying too hard? That’s great. He’s not afraid to take responsibilities, not afraid to try to make things to happen.
“When he feels that he’s not as dangerous as he likes to be, he drops back, he tries things, tries to come to building up areas. When he makes mistakes he tries to compensate immediately with a fantastic spirit, with a great transition to try and win back the ball. We are very happy with him.”
Sanchez is expected to take his place against Liverpool in a fight for second place on Saturday and despite being the subject of increasing criticism, Mourinho claims he is unfazed and his attitude alone earns him a place in his side.
“He’s fine. He’s happy that the team is getting results. He was unhappy when we lost matches with him in the side but he’s a guy with great maturity and attitude and we couldn’t be happier,” he added.