Ole Gunnar Solskjaer confirmed unmitigated flop Alexis Sanchez’s imminent exit to Inter Milan – but announced the Man Utd departure with a tinge of sadness.
There was much hype and hope when the forward arrived from Arsenal in January 2018 in a swap deal for Henrikh Mkhitaryan. But the 31-year-old has got nowhere near justifying his eye-watering wages.
Sanchez scored five goals in 45 appearances for United and has spent the season on loan at Inter. He has, however, found a permanent home there and came on for them on Wednesday night as they beat Getafe 2-0 in their Europa League last-16 clash.
After United’s win over LASK, that was something Solskjaer was also able to confirm.
“We’ll announce it tomorrow, so I can confirm that he’s agreed and we’ve agreed,” he said. “Alexis enjoyed his time there. They’ve liked him so of course that’s a good move for him.”
Solskjaer admits he’ll leave with their best wishes. However, there is also a tinge of regret that United never saw the best of Sanchez.
“Wish him all the best. He’s a top player that we want to see play his best football. For whatever reason, we didn’t see the best of Alexis but he’s a top professional and we just wish him all the best.”
While the Sanchez situation will come to an end on Thursday, another deal looks set to drag on. It now seems United’s pursuit of Jadon Sancho shows little sign of being concluded anytime soon.
Asked how difficult the deal will be to sign the England forward from Borussia Dortmund, Solskjaer was not giving much away.
“Well, we’re looking into all transfers differently. I’m not going to speak about individuals that are not our players,” he said.
“I’ve got no news, no update. We’ll update you if something happens.”
Lingard future update
Solskjaer was speaking after United easily avoided an unthinkable Europa League exit to LASK.
Five months after winning 5-0 in Austria, substitute Anthony Martial wrapped up a 2-1 comeback victory on a night when Philipp Wiesinger’s stunner had put the visitors ahead.
Jesse Lingard quickly cancelled that goal out and admitted afterwards he was frustrated to be taken off as he wanted to add to his two goals in as many games.
Asked if the attacking midfielder has a future beyond this final few weeks of the season, Solskjaer said: “Every player, when you get your chance in a game or even in training, you’ve got a chance to prove yourself, prove your worth.
“I’ve known Jesse since he was a little kid and I know there’s a good player and a great personality to have around.
“He knows what we want from him and he knows he has to stand by the manager whatever decision he makes. I would be disappointed if he was happy coming off.
“He’s growing in confidence. He’s worked really hard on his finishing, especially lately, and I’m happy for him to score.”
Solskjaer admits United were rusty
Lingard was among nine changes from the side that won 2-0 at Leicester on the final day of the Premier League season. The rustiness of those peripheral players was in evidence on Wednesday.
United set up a quater-final against Copenhagen and says he feared his side may struggle against LASK.
“It was as expected, really, against a team that we knew were aggressive team, were going to press us.
“We found it a little bit hard in the beginning to find a rhythm in our passing and we didn’t create chances.
“But we needed game time, some of these players. We needed to win the game, we wanted to win the game and it’s job done.”
As for LASK, they were far better than the 5-0 loss in March in head coach Dominik Thalhammer’s first game in charge.
“I thought we did very well overall and adapted well to the situation here,” he said.
“We did what we intended to do. We wanted to have control of the ball. I think we did well at times in putting that into practice.”