Alexis Sanchez is a petulant diva who is proving to be a huge waste of money
Alexis Sanchez has gone missing since he joined Manchester United with his display against Sevilla in the humiliating Champions League defeat typical of a player who has lost his way, writes Desmond Kane.
And so the misery of the number seven shirt continues. Since Cristiano Ronaldo departed Old Trafford for Real Madrid in 2009, Manchester United’s revered number seven has been a poisoned chalice. They all wanted it, but few can handle it.
There is little indication that £35m man Alexis is going to end the hex judging by his failure to launch in Manchester United’s appalling demise against Sevilla in the Champions League last 16 on Tuesday. It is the latest relapse in his third month at a club he washed up at playing a piano and promising a fresh overture that has turned into a funeral dirge.
Michael Owen, Antonio Valencia, Angel Di Maria and Memphis Depay have all come up well short of the consistency needed to command adulation with Chilean attacker Sanchez beginning to look like the latest sorry figure to fail to translate desire into fulfilment.
Sanchez signed from Arsenal amid much fanfare and hyperbole apparently on weekly wages of £450,000 in January, but looks about as comfortable in the shirt as Jose Mourinho committing to all-out sexy football.
Manchester United’s Alexis Sanchez looks dejectedReuters
Amid an impotent, listless and utterly dispiriting collapse to a side fifth in La Liga, Sanchez was nowhere to be seen as United produced an abject performance at the self-styled Theatre of Dreams.
Mourinho played defensive figures Marouane Fellaini – whose Mickey Mouse haircut on the morning of the match was the highlight of his day - and Nemanja Matic in the same team in a contest United had to win, but Sanchez’s trademark flair was equally non-existent.
"He looks a shadow of the player he was, he looks a stranger in this team..in some ways, I feel sorry for him," said former United defender Rio Ferdinand on BT Sport.
Prior to this match, it was claimed Arsenal wanted to see the back of Sanchez and his theatrical ways. Little wonder.
“Arsenal would put up stats inside the dressing room last year after every game showing the amount of kilometres run, the passing, and Sanchez would regularly come out with the lowest mileage by a big distance and the players would just go absolutely bananas at him playing to the camera and making all these moves like ‘Oh, they’re just not worthy of me! What am I doing here?,” said the journalist Raphael Honigstein.
"So they really wanted to get rid of him. Whether they have improved as a team is a different story, but I think it is a happier dressing room."
In 10 matches so far, he has scored only one goal. And struggled to justify why United paid so much for him. He remains great at doing that signal for his team-mates to press when he is doing little or nothing of note himself.
There is more than a touch of the diva about him judging by the strops he throws without actually justifying his self-worth. His output when he poses with his dog on Instagram is much more considered than his level of play on current form. And at the age of 29, he is no longer a kid. The biggest contribution he has made has been in retweets when signing.
It was the actress Rita Hayworth who famously said of her most famous role: “Every man I knew went to bed with Gilda..and woke up with me" referring to the difference between illusion and reality.
United fans went to bed dreaming of signing Alexis, but have woken up to another reality: Even Arsenal, in their current state of disrepair, do not miss Sanchez.