There seems to be a bit of an outcry at the moment about Alexis Sanchez’s potential move from Arsenal to Manchester United, with many fans and pundits labelling the Chile international as a money grabber or a mercenary.
While you’d be a fool to suggest that money isn’t a major factor in the 29-year-old’s decision to move to Old Trafford, instead of the Etihad to link up with his former Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola, as was expected, I genuinely think people are losing perspective when it comes to the clubs and individuals involved.
Of course many will point to the fact that the chance to link up with his old manager at the Nou Camp, who plays a more attractive brand of attacking football than the ultra pragmatic Jose Mourinho would seem like the obvious footballing choice, but it really isn’t as simple as that.
In fact, during the the one season Pep and Sanchez shared together in Spain, the Chilean started only 20 La Liga games through a combination of injury and simply not being selected due to his struggles to fit into Guardiola’s tactical approach. Sanchez’s struggles at Barcelona even prompted former Chile national team boss Jorge Sampiola to remark that the lack of freedom given to the player within Pep’s meticulously prepared formation, actually stifled the talented attackers impact on games.
Pep has even admitted as much since, when he said last year :
“I think the position Arsenal are using him as a striker, in front, it is perfect for him. In Barcelona maybe I didn’t help him too much because he played wide. He can do that but he is better between the lines, closer to the goal.”
Although City might be top dogs in the Premier League right now and in Manchester for that matter, the club he is about to join, Manchester United is a club with far superior tradition, not to mention the fact they have been famous all over the world for many years.
The Red’s have also proved over the last few seasons, that whilst they have not always got it right in the transfer market they are prepared to keep trying to attract world-class players in order to regain their place at the summit of English football.
Like I said, I am not doubting for one second that Sanchez, who grew up in poverty in Chile is motivated by money. However, by the same token it was only a few years ago that we labeled every player that went to a newly oil rich City a mercenary.
Up until 2011 the Citizens had not won a trophy in 40 years yet they still managed to sign world stars like Kompany, Toure, Aguero and Silva, so are City not really the biggest collection of mercenaries in the Premier League ?
Even their manager Pep Guardiola is only there because of the promise of a mega-salary and until this week anyway, the ability to outbid pretty much any club for any player he ever wanted. Or maybe I’m wrong and they all grew up dreaming of wearing blue after watching old videos of Colin Bell and Mike Summerbee.
The reality is that until the Abu Dhabi Group bought City in 2008 and started pumping copious amounts of oil money into the club, most people outside of the UK and Ireland didn’t even know the club existed.
So for all those rushing to denounce this move as purely driven by money, let’s remember that City have done the same thing with many players and to many other clubs over the last decade, so in many ways they are simply being given a taste of their own medicine.