Alexis Sanchez has finally opened up on the reason for leaving Arsenal for arch rivals Manchester United during the 2018 January transfer window.
The Chilean was part of a swap deal that saw Henrikh Mkhitaryan join the Gunners from United, but it required a massive financial outlay from the latter to entice the forward to choose the Old Trafford club over other interested suitors.
Manchester City were favorites to land Sanchez last summer, but Arsenal blocked the move as they were unable to secure a replacement and it was expected that he will join Pep Guardiola’s team when his Arsenal contract expired at the end of the 2017/18 season.
United were late entrants into the race to sign Sanchez and made an offer that City were unwilling to match. According to reports, the Red Devils will pay the Chile international £14m ($19.5m) a year after he agreed a four and a half year deal.
Arsenal were desperate to hold on to Sanchez at least until the end of the season after it became clear that he will not sign a new deal with his former employers. Arsene Wenger was happy to allow him to leave on a free in the summer, but had to submit when United came calling, with the player keen to join Jose Mourinho’s side.
Sanchez spoke about the Arsenal manager’s desperate attempt in the last minute to convince him to stay by labeling him the best player at the club. But there was no convincing the former Barcelona forward as he had already decided to make the switch to the 20-time English champions.
The 29-year-old also made it clear that there is no bad blood between him and the French manager, as Wenger later understood the player’s position despite wanting him to remain at Arsenal beyond the 2017/18 campaign.
“He was very fond of me and he didn’t want to let me go,” Sanchez said, as quoted by the Daily Mail. “He told me, ‘I want you to sign here because you are the best player in the team’.”
“I wanted to continue growing as a player, more so as a Chilean, because it’s difficult to get to Man United.
“No Chilean had played here. Arsene understood it at last, we ended up on good terms, he congratulated me and there was no problem,” the Chile international added.
Sanchez, however, has not had the best starts to his United career and has managed just one goal in his 10 appearances in all competitions thus far. He was recently criticized for his performance as the Premier League club were dumped out of the Champions League in the round of 16 by 5th placed La Liga outfit Sevilla.