Tuesday 20 March 2018

Sanchez hits back at critics after sealing his United deal

Alexis Sanchez has been described as the ‘biggest mercenary in football’. Photo: PA
Alexis Sanchez has been described as the ‘biggest mercenary in football’. Photo: PA

James Ducker

Alexis Sanchez insisted that he left Arsenal to win trophies and appeared to hit back at the critics who have branded him a "mercenary" as he finally completed his move to Manchester United last night.

Sanchez, who will wear the iconic No 7 shirt at Old Trafford, has signed a four-and-a-half-year contract to June 2022 worth around £600,000 (€684,000) a week once a £20 million (€22.8m) signing-on fee, bonuses and image rights are factored in and makes him comfortably the highest-paid player in Premier League history.

Arsenal have signed the Armenia playmaker Henrikh Mkhitaryan from United in return, and although no cash was exchanged in the swap deal, the Sanchez transfer is effectively worth £180m (€205m) once his £30m (€34m) valuation, payments to the player and a £10m (€11.4m) fee to his agent, Fernando Felicevich, are accounted for.

Manchester City had been the favourites to sign Sanchez before pulling out of the running after baulking at the spiralling costs of the deal but the Chilean insisted he was joining "the biggest club in the world", that it had been a boyhood dream to play for them and that he had held talks with Alex Ferguson about a move in 2011 before signing for Barcelona from Udinese.


Sanchez also said he had chosen to leave Arsenal for the "same reason".

Thierry Henry quit the club for Barcelona in 2007, when the Frenchman signalled his desire to challenge for the biggest trophies, and took a parting shot at the former Arsenal players who have been critical of him.

Martin Keown described Sanchez as the "biggest mercenary in football" after accusing the player of turning down City and a reunion with Pep Guardiola, his coach at Barcelona, for money.

Sanchez had retweeted a newspaper article on Saturday which scoffed at the idea of the striker being a mercenary and Keown appeared to be one of the targets as he paid what was otherwise an emotional farewell to Arsenal.

"There are people (former club players) who have spoken with no knowledge of what happens inside the club and cause damage," Sanchez said on Twitter in an apparent reference to Keown.

"I must say I always gave 100pc, until the last day, when I asked the Mister (Arsene Wenger) to be in the team, because I wanted to (make) a contribution.

"I remember today, a conversation I had with Henry, a historic Arsenal player, who changed club for the same reason and today is my turn. Thanks for everything Gunners!

"All we achieved and the good moments that I gave to the club, I want to dedicate it to the fans, they are the most important. Thanks for every time you sing Alexis Sanchez Baby."

Sanchez, 29, who underwent a medical at United's Carrington training ground on Sunday, distanced himself from suggestions City had been his preference and said the prospect of wearing the No 7 shirt immortalised by the likes of Eric Cantona, David Beckham and Cristiano Ronaldo excited him.

"Since I was a young lad, I've always said that my dream was to play for Manchester United, and I'm not just saying that because I'm here now and today it's come true," said Sanchez, who spoke with Ferguson at Old Trafford yesterday before travelling to Liverpool to have his work permit approved.

"I always said as a kid that I'd like to play for United and I once spoke to Sir Alex Ferguson about it. We chatted for around 20 minutes. And I told him that my dream was to come here to Manchester United.

"It really is a massive club, very powerful, and so now, when I got the opportunity to come here, I looked at the badge and my hairs just stood up on end because it's a powerful club and the biggest in England.

"I believe that at this club it's possible to achieve anything. The badge says it all, it's a huge club on a worldwide scale, and I want to come here and win everything: the Premier League, the Champions League, and whatever comes the club's way in the future.

"When they told me that Cristiano, Cantona, David Beckham had all worn it, just thinking about that No 7 sets you off dreaming in your head with ideas about lifting the Champions League trophy and winning the Premier League title.

"So, yes, I'm fulfilling a dream and I hope to give my very best and win many trophies at this club."

Jose Mourinho, the United manager, believes Sanchez's experience and quality will prove a crucial addition.

"Alexis is one of the best attacking players in the world and he will complete our very young and talented group of attacking players," he said.

United's capture of Sanchez is a coup, especially as rivals City had appeared in pole position. City's £60m (€68.4m) deal had collapsed on transfer deadline day in August after Arsenal were unable to secure a replacement in time.

The Premier League leaders maintained their interest but ended up backing out of a deal last week. That paved the way for United, who had been secretly talking to Sanchez's representative for several months.

The Sanchez deal comes as Deloitte again name United as the world's richest club, just ahead of Real Madrid, with revenues of £581m (€663m). © The Daily Telegraph, London


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