It has been a while since a January transfer window has been this exciting. Manchester United are about to sign Alexis Sanchez.
The Chilean has been linked with Manchester City since summer but United swooped in and managed to make him their own, or close to that, in a surprising turn of events.
In turn, Arsenal are getting Henrikh Mkhitaryan as part of the deal. The Armenian has struggled for minutes and form under Jose Mourinho and has the opportunity to kick-start his Premier League career at The Emirates.
It looks like both clubs could benefit from this deal. United are getting a player that can bring passion, work rate and class to the squad. Alexis is exactly the type of player Mourinho likes, a ready-made superstar willing to leave it all on the field.
On the other hand, Mkhitaryan looks to be the ideal player for Arsene Wenger, an intelligent attacking midfielder with remarkable skill and creativity. This can turn out to be the best bit of business both clubs have done in a very long time.
Despite the excitement that has been reverberating throughout both sets of fans, there are still questions that need to be answered once the deal goes through.
Where will Alexis play for United? Which player will fall victim to his arrival? Will it be talented Anthony Martial, in-form Jesse Lingard or England’s golden boy- Marcus Rashford? Will the high sum of salary United are willing to pay Alexis become a cause of tension and discontent in the dressing room?
There will be similar set of questions for Arsenal as well, a question of where and how to best use Mkhitaryan’s qualities. The Armenian likes to play in a number 10 role but where will that leave Mesut Özil? Can the two function in the same system?
On paper, the swap deal looks great for both teams. United are getting rid of an unhappy player and replacing him with a world class one. Arsenal are saying farewell to a man whose presence was doing more bad than good for the squad of late, and in return acquiring a talented player determined to prove his doubters wrong.
Alexis is looking for new challenges. A lot can be said about how this move is motivated by money or as Martin Keown bluntly- or in a somewhat biased manner- put it as a ‘mercenary’ move, but he is a player who realized that he won’t be able to achieve his ambitions at Arsenal. Whether he will at United remains to be seen, but his desire to leave is understandable.
Mkhitaryan was always going to struggle with a Mourinho team that prioritizes defensive organization more than anything. It also comes as no surprise that the Armenian struggled to thrive in a system that didn’t play to his strength.
It is just too much of to ask for a player of his quality and attribute to defend or be involved in such activities. Hence this explains the contrasting difference in form of his last season at Dortmund and the last a year and a half at Man United.
The question of who got the best deal can only be answered on the pitch. It can only be seen after the players settled into their new home.
We can only know the answers depending on how well the players integrate into their respective teams. But for now, it looks like both clubs and players are the winners.
Written by Brook Genene
Follow Brook on Twitter @brookge
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