Paul Merson has argued in favour of why Man Utd should keep Alexis Sanchez next season and allow Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to try and get the best out of him.
After a stellar spell with rivals Arsenal, the 31-year-old struggled to hit top form at Old Trafford as he managed just five goals and nine assists in 45 appearances.
That resulted in him being shipped out on a season-long loan deal to Inter, and while he’s scheduled to return to Manchester this summer, it remains to be seen what happens next as his campaign has been disrupted by injury which in turn has prevented him from showing his worth in Serie A.
Given how badly he struggled previously at United, some may well argue that Solskjaer should try to cut his losses and find a replacement to move on.
However, Merson believes that the situation has changed since last summer, both on and off the pitch, and he believes that Sanchez could yet turn things around and prove himself at the club.
“With what’s currently going on, I can’t see a team going out and spending £100m on a player anymore. Teams are going to have to stick with what they’ve got so Manchester United keeping hold of Alexis Sanchez and bringing him back into the fold would come as no surprise,” he told Sky Sports.
“The other options would be to go and find a replacement and they would have to spend £60m or £70m to do it. I just don’t think clubs are going to do that anymore.
“For that reason, I can understand Sanchez coming back to play a part at Old Trafford because, on his day, he is a great player.
“He’s got to come back and appreciate he’s at one of the biggest clubs in the world, if not the biggest. There is logic in Sanchez going back at Old Trafford, he’s a top player and if they can get even half the player he was at Barcelona and Arsenal back, he’ll be an asset.”
There is sense in Merson’s perspective, both financially and from a football viewpoint. However, it’s easier said than done based on how Sanchez fell short last time round at Man Utd, and so it remains to be seen if he can belatedly rediscover the form he displayed at Arsenal.
If he can stay fit, stay happy and be used in his most effective role, perhaps there is still time for the Chilean international to avoid being labelled a flop. With his pace, movement, creativity and eye for goal, he could indeed be an asset for Solskjaer while his experience could also be crucial to help guide some of the younger players in the squad.
If the club are restricted in the transfer market, Sanchez may still get a chance to prove his worth to the Man Utd faithful.