Chris Brunskill/Fantasista/Getty Images
Manchester United interim manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer expects Alexis Sanchez to show his “best level” when he is back to 100 percent fitness.
The Chilean has been a huge disappointment since moving to United from Arsenal last January in a swap deal that saw Henrikh Mkhitaryan go the other way.
B/R Football @brfootball
OFFICIAL: Alexis Sanchez joins Manchester United and Henrikh Mkhitaryan joins Arsenal in a historic swap deal https://t.co/phMIjtQLCJ
Since Solskjaer has been in charge—he was appointed in December after Jose Mourinho was sacked—Sanchez has largely been unavailable due to a hamstring injury.
He has returned to the fold recently, though, providing assists in 2-0 defeats of Newcastle United and Reading.
And Solskjaer says the 30-year-old has a fresh start under him and assistant coach Mike Phelan, per Adam Higgins on United’s official website:
“Of course, he’s got high standards himself that you demand from yourself. When it doesn’t work for you, as it clearly hasn’t and he’s had some injuries, then it’s difficult to suddenly click and put that confidence on.
“So [we’ve had] individual chats but, of course, it’s a fresh start for him with me and Mike [Phelan] coming in—it’s a new lease of life for him maybe. Hopefully we can see the best of him because he’s a top, top player.
“We’ve had the issue with his injury—that’s been the problem here now. So he’s not really had a chance to prove himself or show what he can do and it will still take time before we can fairly say that Alexis is 100 percent fit and he’s had many games on the run. Then we expect to see the best level that he can perform to.“
Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images
An in-form Sanchez would be a huge asset for United.
In his last full season at Arsenal in 2016-17 he netted 24 goals and 10 assists in 38 Premier League appearances.
That is the kind of individual return on which title challenges can be built.
Indeed, the last time United won the league was the last time they had a player who passed the 20-goal mark in the league—Robin van Persie netted 26 under Sir Alex Ferguson in 2012-13.
Due to his injury concerns Sanchez is unlikely to be back in the regular starting XI for a while.
But he could be invaluable in the latter stages of the season if he can return to full fitness and rediscover his confidence.