Sanchez moves to Etihad - in bid to delay the title.
Byline: CIARAN KELLY firstname.lastname@example.org @MENCKelly
'ALEXIS Sanchez, he wants to be blue!' Minutes after referee Michael Oliver got the game underway at the Etihad, mischievous City fans taunted those Arsenal supporters nestled away in the South Stand.
Sanchez, who pushed for a deadline day move up the M6 just three months previously, had given the ball away from an Arsenal corner and City very nearly made him pay - only for Sergio Aguero to fluff his lines with barely two minutes played.
It set the tone for a frustrating afternoon for the Chilean which culminated in him darting down the tunnel as 'Roll With It' screeched out of the PA system at the final whistle of Arsenal's 3-1 defeat.
It was clear this would be Sanchez's last appearance at the Etihad in an Arsenal shirt and the majority of those fans in attendance expected he would be wearing blue the next time he appeared at Ashton New Road in August, 2018.
Of course, it did not pan out that way.
Gabriel Jesus' knee injury on New Year's Day changed City's stance and instead of holding out for a summer move, and signing Sanchez on a free, they looked to speed things up with a mid-season transfer.
The goalposts had shifted. Sanchez wanted to become the club's highest earner as he eyed the last big contract of his career and City walked away, claiming the moral high ground.
Memories of Rodney Marsh's arrival when they were four points clear at the top of the First Division in 1972 still loomed large for a generation of City fans.
"Right, no beating about the bush. I have to hold my hands up - I cost City the 1972 league championship," Marsh later wrote in his autobiography after boss Malcolm Allison changed formation to accommodate the maverick.
Now, for the first time since his shock move to bitter rivals United, Sanchez returns to the Etihad where he will be met by an inevitable chorus of boos.
For most City fans it is simple - Sanchez is a mercenary. For United supporters, it is not quite that straightforward. Yes, Sanchez is on an eye-watering amount of money, but this is the wide-eyed youngster who dreamt of walking out at Old Trafford and had Cristiano Ronaldo posters on his bedroom wall.
Jose Mourinho, too, has indulged his signing - regularly playing him in his favourite position on the left - and Sanchez may not have had that luxury when battling Jesus, Sterling et al for a place in the starting lineup.
Also, rather than the 'easy' win of pocketing Premier League and Carabao Cup winners' medals at City, Mourinho will have sold Sanchez the vision of winning those trophies the hard way at Old Trafford.
Of course, money talks and Sanchez will ultimately be judged on whether he helps fire United back to the very top and steps up on the big occasion.
Starting on Saturday.
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|Publication:||Manchester Evening News (Manchester, United Kingdom)|
|Date:||Apr 5, 2018|
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