Manchester United Transfer News: Alexis Sanchez Would Be Big Coup for Red Devils

Gianni Verschueren@ReverschPassFeatured ColumnistJune 10, 2014

FC Barcelona's Alexis Sanchez, from Chile, reacts against Rayo Vallecano during a Spanish La Liga soccer match at the Camp Nou stadium in Barcelona, Spain, Saturday, Feb. 15, 2014. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)
Manu Fernandez/Associated Press

Manchester United are looking into a potential move for Chilean winger Alexis Sanchez, and the Barcelona man could be one of the best Premier League signings of the summer.

As reported by The Guardian's Jamie Jackson, Louis van Gaal is a big fan of the 25-year-old winger whose time with Barcelona has been filled with ups and downs:

Alexis Sánchez has been identified by Louis van Gaal as a summer target for Manchester United, with the manager considering a move for the £20m-rated Barcelona forward.

Although United’s interest has yet to reach any advanced stage, the manager is a firm admirer of the Chile international, who will face Van Gaal’s Holland during the World Cup in Brazil.

United would want to sell one or two of their forward players to ensure Van Gaal’s squad remains uncluttered if Sánchez were to arrive. This would mean that Nani, Ashley Young, Antonio Valencia and Shinji Kagawa, plus possibly the strikers Javier Hernández and Danny Welbeck, could be under threat as the manager assesses his new squad and how he wants the side to play.

Sachez is a versatile, offensive-minded forward who can play both behind the striker and out on the wing. With the Red Devils, he would likely primarily be used as a winger on the opposite side of Belgian starlet Adnan Januzaj.

Like Januzaj, the Chilean has a large bag of tricks he can use to get past opponents, but Sanchez prefers to rely on his deadly pace and excellent all-round athleticism.

He's also a lot more focused on goal than Januzaj, preferring the direct route of cutting inside over playing near the sidelines.

A return of 19 goals and 11 assists in 43 matches is very impressive considering Barcelona's system, where much of the focus lies on the players occupying a more central role.

At Udinese, Sanchez was allowed play more freely, often drifting all over the pitch and doing damage playing behind the deadly Antonio Di Natale.

Barcelona aren't shy on talented wingers, with Neymar getting ready for his second season at the club and Pedro enjoying a bit of a breakout campaign in 2013-14. The Blaugrana could be tempted into a sale, with The Guardian quoting a valuation of £20 million.

If that's the price Barcelona would want for their Chilean star, the Red Devils shouldn't hesitate for a second.

Nani, Ashley Young, Antonio Valencia and Shinji Kagawa are all solid options on the wing, but none of them pack the kind of offensive punch Sanchez does.

In many ways, Sanchez is the player everyone hoped Nani would become. He's fast, always has an eye on goal and plays with an intensity that overwhelms opponents. Unlike Nani, though, he's consistent and a far better passer than the Portuguese will ever be.

His speed and power make him an excellent fit for the physical Premier League and his eye for goal is something United can definitely use, with the club relying too heavily on the scoring ability of Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney last season.

According to WhoScored, no other player on the team scored in double figures in 2013/14.

More importantly, he's a perfect fit opposite Januzaj. The young Belgian is almost gracious on the pitch, slowing down play when necessary and getting as many teammates as possible involved.

Israel L. Murillo/Associated Press

Sanchez is a freight train—he has no interest whatsoever in slowing things down, and he'll run right through a defender if that is the quickest way to get to goal.

United are rebuilding, and the ambitious Sanchez may not be interested in joining a club where Champions League football isn't an option. But with question marks surrounding his future at Barcelona, a move to the Premier League might not be such a bad idea.

Sanchez has the potential to be an impact player at Old Trafford immediately and there would be no playing second fiddle to the likes of Neymar. He has the skill set of a star, and that's exactly what he would be in Manchester.

At £20 million, it makes sense for Van Gaal to be interested in the player, and he'll get to scout him up close when the Netherlands play Chile during the World Cup.

A good match there could help convince the new United boss to bring the player to Old Trafford.