As the season is drawing to a close, the transfer rumour mill is once again moving to the forefront of football discussions across the country. One of the more persistent suggestions is that Alexis Sanchez will make the switch from London to the blue side of Manchester. Given the current state of affairs at Arsenal it is looking increasingly likely that the Chilean will make a move in the summer. The question is: should it be City?
The general consensus is that Alexis Sanchez is going to cost any potential suitors upwards of £40m, with some media outlets claiming that figure may need to be £50m or more. This poses two very important questions though: at age 29 is investing over £40m in Sanchez good idea? Could the money be better spent elsewhere?
Let’s look at the age issue first as it has an effect on more than just City’s bank balance. Financially speaking this transfer doesn’t make a lot of sense should he not be a good fit for the team. Given that Sanchez is 29 now, his transfer value is only going to depreciate as time goes by which means if things don’t go well the club is going to struggle to recoup the money they shelled out to bring him in. I’m aware that this isn’t necessarily a huge issue and that City are well equipped to handle such expenditure but frugality should never be scoffed at.
Furthermore, spending in excess of £40m on a 29 year old sends a huge message to the squad and to the fans – the club is in “win now” mode. This is a dangerous message to send; we all know how things turn out when a side is built upon the acquisition of prime and “veteran” players. The evidence can be seen with the struggles that the team have been facing this season, is it wise for the club to go down that road again? It also flies in the face of the transfer policy that was established last summer as well. Younger talent was the focus (Stones, Sané, etc.) with clear intent to try and establish the foundation of the team for years to come.
There is also the argument that this transfer could also provide insight as to how long Pep will stay in Manchester (should the transfer actually happen). Signing a player in his prime could suggest that Pep won’t be staying any longer than his current contract, whilst another summer of investment in younger players might suggest a longer stay.
Secondly, I want to question whether the money would be better invested elsewhere. The short answer is yes. It’s no secret that defensively City have been poor this season, and it shows no sign of being resolved without new, better personnel being brought in. Any money spent on Sanchez means perhaps we don’t receive the reinforcements needed in defence and even midfield. Whilst it would be nice to have another sensational attacking option, the existing problems within the team must take priority before “luxury” signings are made.
The easiest way to resolve this issue is to ask yourself whether you want a new superstar winger or a pair of new full-backs.
Where Does he Fit in?
Sanchez is a “Pep player” no doubt about that. The fact that the two have worked together before at Barcelona proves that already. His tenacity, flair and ability to help circulate the ball mean he would be a fantastic offensive addition to the team. Moreover, his willingness to press and close down defenders is something that Pep places a huge emphasis on and Sanchez definitely excels in this regard.
A lot of people are wondering what it would mean for Sergio Agüero’s situation should Sanchez join City. Whilst a lot of people suspect that it would mean Sergio needs to leave the club, I don’t believe that is the case at all. When Sanchez played for Pep at Barcelona he was predominantly used as right winger, despite the team having no “traditional” forward at their disposal. Cesc Fábregas and Lionel Messi took up the central attacking the role exclusively during this period, whilst Sanchez made penetrative diagonal runs from the wing.
Given how Pep has used Sanchez when working with the player in the past, there is definitely potential for both players to flourish in the same side. I’d like to make it clear that if Sanchez was to be brought in, it would almost certainly be to compliment Sergio – not to replace him. Whilst Agüero has had problems adjusting to Pep’s style, his performances as of late have been tremendous and his contributions to important results this season should not be forgotten.
There is also potential for Sanchez to act as a relief player to allow Sané and Sterling to receive some much needed rest given the lack of depth available in the wide areas. With Navas almost certainly gone and Nolito moving towards the wrong side of 30, City are definitely in need of another wide player to share the workload with Leroy and Raheem. This again goes back to the issues regarding Sanchez’s price tag – is it really worth spending £40m on a rotation player? Moreover, I doubt that Sanchez would be happy to fulfill this role given he is the main man at Arsenal right now. I doubt that Pep would want to make him the main option on the wing for City though as it would surely impede the (thus far) rapid development of both Sterling and Sané. Add Gabriel Jesus into the mix as well and there’s definitely a case to be made for too many cooks spoiling the broth when it comes to the development of our younger talent.
Purchase or Pass?
For all of the good things that Sanchez could bring to City, the transfer poses too many risks and potential problems for it to be something that I wholeheartedly recommend that the club tries to accomplish. Any serious game time taken away from both Sterling and Sané will ultimately be detrimental to their development as I doubt that Sanchez would take kindly to being benched for an important Champions League quarter-final, for example. The issue of depth out wide can be addressed by making use of the abundance of talent in the youth system, or more frugal investment in younger talent via the transfer market.
The main counter-argument to this line of thinking comes in the form of Robin van Persie. In a similar situation as Alexis Sanchez is right now, he moved to Manchester United and ended up being the spark that gave them a Premier League title win 2012/13 season. Similar questions were asked of the decision to invest £22.5m in an aging striker with a less than desirable injury record. However, the Dutchman silenced the doubters with a phenomenal season, and the rest is history. Is Alexis capable of producing a similar season though? His 18 goals and 9 assists this season suggest that he is, but it’s impossible to guarantee he would make the same return next season in a City shirt.
I’d like to once again state that this is once again potentially less money being spent on fixing the main issue the team has been facing all season: the defence. It would make much more sense to spend the same amount of money on new full-backs or a goalkeeper than a luxury winger. Of course, all of this is redundant should the club be able to also provide a huge amount of money to be spent on the rest of squad as well. Even so, I’m sure everyone would agree that Sanchez should be secured after more important signings have been confirmed.
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