Football

Whiteside: Man United will Champions League with Sanchez

Old Trafford legend Whiteside believes Chilean is Red Devils' bridge to European glory

Alexis Sanchez's long-running transfer saga to Manchester United from Arsenal has divided opinions like few other.

Many slammed the 29-year-old forward for being greedy, and reports that the Chilean is set to earn up to a whopping £500,000 (S$915,000) a week is not helping his cause.

Yet, there are also those who believe Sanchez's desire to leave for greener pastures simply reflects his wish to win more silverware.

Old Trafford legend Norman Whiteside feels that Sanchez joining United is a win-win situation for both player and club.

In an interview with the Mirror, he said that Sanchez could be the missing piece of the jigsaw in their quest for the ultimate prize - the Champions League.

He said: "City have got to win the title from here - but after signing Alexis Sanchez, I can also see United winning the Champions League.

"Sanchez is a special player who can make the difference in the biggest of games and he's been desperate to get away from Arsenal so that he can join a club that's going to challenge for the top trophies.

"United have already got a manager who has won the Champions League against all the odds before.

"And Sanchez will bring that extra bit of magic to the United team when they get down to the business end of the competition."

On the other hand, former United, Real Madrid and Liverpool striker Michael Owen thinks it is unfair to accuse Sanchez of being a mercenary, but wondered if a transfer to Old Trafford is the right career move for him.

Opining that United manager Jose Mourinho favours a brand of football too pragmatic to harness Sanchez's attacking brilliance, Owen also pointed out the Portuguese's general distrust of flair players.

He added that Sanchez will do better in a team like Liverpool, Manchester City or Tottenham Hotspur.

He said in the Daily Mail: "It's just that teams under (Juergen) Klopp, (Pep) Guardiola and (Mauricio) Pochettino would score more goals.

"As a striker, if I wanted to improve my game and get to another level, I'd want to play for one of those managers and especially Guardiola.

"Maybe if I were a defender, I might prefer Mourinho but at United, Sanchez will eventually conform to what Mourinho wants and that will restrict his performance."

On another note, Chelsea legend Frank Lampard has pleaded with Sanchez's detractors to back off.

Said Lampard: "It is not as if he's turned down City to go to China, like other players.

"He's gone to one of the biggest, if not the biggest club in the world in Manchester United.

"If you look at it the other way, of course there's money involved, but it's more of a challenge.

"Here at Manchester United, there's no doubt that they need an uplift - they're 12 points behind (City in the EPL). He could be that man."

Meanwhile, the AFP reported that Mourinho was confident his protracted pursuit Sanchez is nearing a conclusion at long last.

Speaking after his side's 1-0 victory at Burnley in the Premier League on Saturday, he conceded that the negotiations, which are expected to end with Henrikh Mkhitaryan moving in the opposite direction, were at a delicate stage.

But, in common with Arsenal counterpart Arsene Wenger, Mourinho was optimistic the two-way transfer was either on the verge of completion or collapse, with a decision fast-approaching.

"I expect soon or never," said Mourinho. "I think it is so close, so close, so close that if it doesn't happen, it's not going to happen.

"So, I am positive, I know my people are doing everything they can - the owners with the green light, Mr (Ed) Woodward (United executive vice-chairman) working hard with Matt Judge (head of corporate finance) and everybody is giving everything they can and I think they are going to be successful."

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