Barcelona forward Alexis Sanchez has been highlighted as a target by new Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal as the Dutchman looks to rebuild the club's squad for 2014-15.
Jamie Jackson of The Guardian reports that LvG will consider a £20 million move for the Chile international, and the coach is prepared to sell one or two of United's attacking players to create space for his arrival.
Writing about Sanchez's suitability for Van Gaal's new-look United, Jackson wrote:
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.
Van Gaal has often utilised a 4-3-3, meaning he requires only one dedicated striker, with his team placing emphasis on pacy widemen. When in charge of Bayern Munich he operated with Franck Ribéry and Arjen Robben on the flanks in this fashion.
However, Ben Jefferson of the Express sounds a note of caution, claiming United's interest in Sanchez has been stalled by Barcelona, who wish to encourage an auction involving Serie A champions Juventus.
Jefferson adds that Barcelona have informed the Red Devils they are not prepared to discuss a fee for Sanchez as they hope a successful World Cup campaign increases the player's reputation and value.
Chilean football writer Joel Sked also writes in the Metro that the player is a transfer target for Liverpool, further complicating the overall picture. Bleacher Report's Karl Matchett gave his short yet emphatic support to any such move by the Anfield club:
If Liverpool got Alexis Sanchez… well. Just, yes.— Karl Matchett (@karlmatchett) June 1, 2014
Sanchez had a good season for Barcelona last year, but the Catalan team's trophy failure has led to changes at the Camp Nou which could see his services no longer required.
He scored 19 times in 43 La Liga and Champions League matches last season, per WhoScored.com, and many of Europe's top clubs will be monitoring him at the World Cup in the next few weeks.
Despite criticisms of Sanchez, Netherlands and Barca legend Johan Cruyff has previously backed the player. He said, per Charles Perrin of the Express:
"Alexis Sanchez is widely criticised. It is said that he is not at the level to play at Barca...
"Of course Sanchez is not Messi, but the club should be happy to have a player of this quality in the squad."
Sanchez would be the perfect acquisition for Van Gaal as he looks to add a more potent and creative edge to United's attack. Nani and Ashley Young have continually failed in recent times for the Red Devils and it is time both were moved on.
If Manchester United capture Alexis Sanchez, which player should they sell?
If United are to play a 4-3-3 formation as is likely under LvG, then they must add goals from the wide areas. The club's current stock of wingers look incapable of doing this, although great things are expected of Adnan Januzaj in the next few years.
Sanchez would score goals for United on a regular basis and his speed would cause Premier League defences incredible problems both home and away.