Somewhere out there, in one of the billions of alternate universes that split off whenever we choose to take a certain path, is a universe where Manchester United decide against signing Alexis Sanchez.
In that universe, it’s United that baulk at his monstrous wages, and instead Manchester City recruit the Chilean from Arsenal in the January 2018 transfer window.
But what might that universe look like? On the Totally Football Show this week, Daniel Storey tried to imagine a world where Sanchez went to City rather than United, and it looked pretty different to our current reality.
“I think still City go on to win the league season. That’s undoubted. They were far enough clear. He was signed ostensibly for the Champions League, but I’m not sure he makes a difference in the fairly emphatic eventually defeat to Liverpool. So I think that season at City stays as it is.
“I would suggest maybe that City don’t win the league last season and that Liverpool do. The potential was that he would either play as this left sided forward and therefore Raheem Sterling’s place might suffer, or as a central striker, which he’d been doing at Arsenal for a bit, so Sergio Aguero’s place might suffer – the Sanchez signing came off the back of some pretty significant doubts about Sergio Aguero’s ability to adapt to Pep Guardiola’s football. They were two brilliant cogs in City’s machine last season.”
Interesting. But what would happen beyond the immediate fortunes of City and United?
“Riyad Mahrez doesn’t go to City, because they are hamstrung by those wages. I think Arsenal would have probably bought Mahrez from Leicester.
“Also, Guardiola has said that Kevin de Bruyne and Sterling would probably have kicked a bit more of a fuss for their new deals in terms of the amount of money they’d have wanted. Certainly I think Leroy Sane would probably have been sold to make up that shortfall.
“I think the more interesting issue is at United, because I think if they finish second [in 2017/18] and Mourinho is allowed to spend the money they spent on Sanchez on a centre-back that he wanted – potentially Virgil Van Dijk, or Harry Maguire a year earlier – and then bought a wide player that he wanted, I think they would probably finish in the top four [in 2018/19] and Mourinho could very feasibly still be United manager.”
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