Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Now Sanchez Must Show Move Was Not All about the Money; Poster Boy for Heavy Spending Is under Pressure to Find Form after Moderate Start at United

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

Now Sanchez Must Show Move Was Not All about the Money; Poster Boy for Heavy Spending Is under Pressure to Find Form after Moderate Start at United

Article excerpt

Byline: James Olley Chief Football Correspondent

ALEXIS SANCHEZ may have been desperate to leave London towards the end of his Arsenal career but Wembley must still feel like something of a second home.

The 29-year-old has endured a difficult start to life at Manchester United since moving north in January but produced one of his best performances yet in helping secure their place in tomorrow's FA Cup Final against Chelsea.

Tottenham raced into an early lead in their semi-final against United as Dele Alli scored and others threatened to follow. Yet Sanchez responded midway through the first half with a superb header which proved the game's turning point; he also had a hand in Ander Herrera's winning goal, making inroads down the left before squaring a pass which Romelu Lukaku inadvertently helped on into the Spaniard's path.

Remarkably, Sanchez's goal was his eighth in eight games at the national stadium, dating back to November 2013 when Chile beat England 2-0 courtesy of his brace. He has proved a pivotal figure in the Gunners' recent success in the competition, arriving in the summer after their 2014 win over Hull to score in the 2015 final against Aston Villa.

Chelsea will be fully aware of the threat Sanchez poses given he also scored in last season's final against them as Arsenal edged a hard-fought game 2-1 in what many felt would be the forward's last outing for the club.

A failed deadline-day switch to Manchester City followed and Sanchez was stuck in limbo until United made him the highest-paid player in Premier League history, revealed last week in a book entitled 'Football Leaks: Uncovering The Dirty Deals Behind The Beautiful Game' as a PS391,000-a-week deal. The book also claims Sanchez is paid a further PS75,000 for every game he starts. Those eye-watering figures only heighten the scrutiny Sanchez is under these days, a pressure that almost made him withdraw from Chile's last international double-header to work on his game before a late change of heart.

Players who make mid-season moves often need time to adapt and it didn't help Sanchez that he was not the answer to an obvious problem in the United team. There was always more than a hint of opportunism about United's interest in Sanchez, possibly motivated, at least in part, by a desire to trump City for a player Pep Guardiola had identified some time before, especially because his arrival has had a knock-on effect for two other players in particular.

Mourinho has rarely shown lasting patience with young players and so it is clear why the Portuguese viewed Sanchez's pedigree as an attractive alternative to the growing pains Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford have sometimes exhibited in establishing themselves.

Sanchez has started 17 of the 20 matches United have played since joining, reducing the game-time in which Martial and Rashford could make an impact. …

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