The swap deal which saw Alexis Sánchez join Manchester United and Henrikh Mkhitaryan move to Arsenal was finally confirmed on Monday after weeks of negotiations. The Chile forward has signed a four-and-a-half-year contract at Old Trafford worth an estimated £350,000 a week, while Mkhitaryan is now contracted to Arsenal until 2021 having left United only 18 months after joining from Borussia Dortmund for £27m.
Both José Mourinho and Arsène Wenger appear happy with their new acquisitions but which manager has got the better end of the deal and will both players be successful at their new clubs? Our writers give their verdict on one of the most significant transfers in recent years.
Is Alexis Sánchez a good signing for United? Absolutely, as long as his wage package does not generate discontent within the dressing room. A fully focused Sánchez is a world‑class talent, a player to reinvigorate United’s front-line.
Is Henrikh Mkhitaryan a good signing for Arsenal? The Armenian may not be quite at Sánchez’s stellar level but he has a point to prove and would enjoy the prospect of playing alongside Mesut Özil (at least until the summer). At least he actually wants to be at the Emirates Stadium.
Who has done the better out of the two clubs? Sánchez feels the more eye-catching signing given City had come close to paying £60m for him last summer. The bean counters at Arsenal must still be kicking themselves for opting not to push that deal through in August.
Is Sánchez a good signing for United? An excellent signing, provided the motivation for his contract stand-off at Arsenal was to chase the game’s biggest prizes rather than one last Premier League pay day. Sánchez’s arrival immediately raises the quality of United’s attack.
Is Henrikh Mkhitaryan a good signing for Arsenal? The club have acquired a talented and experienced player to replace another who would have been out of contract in the summer. Whether another pleasing-on-the-eye creator is a priority for this team is debatable but Mkhitaryan should inject much-needed quality.
Who has done the better out of the two clubs? United. Should Mkhitaryan rediscover his consistency and confidence he can grace the Premier League as many hoped he would. Of the two Sánchez looks better suited to the task of elevating his new club.
Is Sánchez a good signing for Manchester United? Yes. The forward instantly elevates José Mourinho’s side. United lack a prolific scorer beyond Romelu Lukaku and 80 goals in 165 games shows the Chilean can be that man.
Is Mkhitaryan a good signing for Arsenal? So far Mkhitaryan has failed to prove he can win matches in English football, having serially disappointed for United. The hope is the Armenian is not one more of the kind of uneven footballer in which Arsenal seem to specialise.
Who has done the better out of the two clubs? Manchester United. Would Arsène Wenger have preferred to retain Sánchez? The response is firmly in the affirmative. The loss is compounded by the Chilean joining a domestic rival.
Is Sánchez a good signing for United? Sánchez has to be a valuable addition for United. A player with an almost obsessive desire to chase and instinctively attack (even if that makes him reckless in possession sometimes). As long as he does not burn out he is a steal.
Is Mkhitaryan a good signing for Arsenal? A classic Wengerian signing – not necessarily what they need, a tricksy ball player who at United could delight but also disappear. The critical element is whether he has come in to combine with, or potentially replace, Özil.
Who has done the better out of the two clubs? United have recruited a ready made Premier League star. Arsenal have gained a talent with a question mark. If a fee had been included in addition to the swap Arsenal’s business might have looked better but bringing in some quality in exchange for a few more months of Sánchez is understandable.
Is Sánchez a good signing for United? Yes. He is a really good player. He still wants to win things. The price is fine. He has a certain kind of edge and arrogance – he still thinks he is as good as Messi and Ronaldo – that fits with the template. With a bit of luck Sánchez could be José’s mercenary, less interesting Cantona.
Is Mkhitaryan a good signing for Arsenal? Yes. He actually wants to play for them. A (possible/unlikely) reunion with Pierre‑Emerick Aubameyang could be fruitful. And Arsenal need both speed and someone to make the passes when Özil does not.
Who has done the better out of the two clubs? Fernando Felicevich and Mino Raiola. Failing that Arsenal, if only because the whole Sánchez saga has exposed Arsène Wenger’s increasing loss of control.
Is Sánchez a good signing for United? Of course he is. United already have a lot of catching up to do when it comes to Manchester City but, if Sánchez had opted to join their neighbours, rather than choosing Old Trafford, it would have been difficult to see any way Mourinho could restore a bit more balance in England’s leading football city.
Is Mkhitaryan a good signing for Arsenal? He is a wonderfully talented footballer and it easy to see why Wenger admires him. Equally, Mkhitaryan never fully showed the strength of personality to win over Mourinho and, on that front, it is a classic Arsenal signing – a stylish player who will bewitch the crowds but can drift to the edges when the heat of the battle is rising.
Who has done the better out of the two clubs? United should probably have the better deal here because they desperately needed a bit more stardust in attack to stay with City in the next few seasons. Sánchez is superior to anyone United have in their forward positions, whereas Mkhitaryan is probably seen more by Arsenal as a replacement for Özil should the German, as expected, leave in the summer.
The Guardian Sport