Where does Sanchez rank alongside Man Utd’s biggest flops?
As Alexis Sanchez closes in on a loan move to Inter Milan, Manchester United fans are wondering if he's actually their worst transfer flop of the last 25 years.
Performance statistics don’t fully explain the extent to which Sanchez has failed to live up to expectations during his 19 months at Old Trafford.
He scored three Premier League goals in 21 starts and 11 substitute appearances at a ratio of one goal every 642 minutes.
United were probably expecting something a lot closer to a goal every 169 minutes that he produced during his impressive spell at Arsenal and that led to the Red Devils battling rivals Manchester City for the Chilean’s signature in January 2018.
— NBC Sports Soccer (@NBCSportsSoccer) February 3, 2018
No money was actually exchanged between the clubs, once City had pulled out of the chase, with United valuing Henrikh Mkhitaryan at around £35m – the fee Arsenal were demanding for Sanchez.
Reports at the time suggested he could earn as much as £14m-a-year after tax or £500,000-per-week from the Red Devils, which means United have shelled out over £40m for his 21 Premier League games.
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) January 23, 2018
And this is probably why he will be regarded as the biggest bust of all time at Old Trafford – ahead of some iconic names and cult figures that are still lambasted on social media and scorned by the match-going Red Army.
In past generations they would talk about Garry Birtles, the England international centre forward brought in for a song by Dave Sexton just after he’d helped Nottingham Forest win their second European Cup in 1980.
He failed to score in his first 25 league appearances for the club and was eventually sent back to Forest after spending less than two seasons in Manchester, but his final return of 11 in 58 games looks prolific next to Sanchez’s figures.
Sir Alex Ferguson made more than a few blunders in the transfer market during his time at the helm but his successes still outweighed the bad ones, although things did not get off to a great start when he shelled out £170,000 for Ralph Milne in 1988.
The winger had been a constant thorn in Aberdeen’s side for Dundee United when Ferguson managed north of the border, but he couldn’t produce on a consistent basis at the Theatre of Dreams.
Ferguson later pointed out Milne’s guidance in the development of Lee Sharpe, who played behind Milne as a left-back for a time.
So even Milne contributed in an area where Sanchez appears to have not – in passing on his experience and knowledge to the younger generation coming through.
More recently, United signed wingers Memphis Depay and Angel Di Maria for big money and neither cut the mustard at Old Trafford.
For both, it was their first Premier League experience and they have gone on to do better at their next clubs.
Inter Milan will be hoping to resurrect the career of Sanchez in a similar way while United keep on paying a high proportion of those eye-watering weekly terms he landed in 2018.