Former Manchester United forward Alexis Sanchez has given details on why he rejected the chance to reunite with Pep Guardiola at Manchester City.
The Chilean was one of the most sought-after attackers in world football in 2018 after scoring 80 goals in just 166 games for Arsenal across all competitions, prompting Manchester rivals United and City to slog it out for his signature.
The now 34-year-old ultimately settled on Old Trafford in favour of linking back up with Guardiola, whom he worked under at Barcelona in 2011/12 after being signed from Udinese by the Catalonian.
Having netted just five goals in 45 games for the club, he was ultimately sold to Inter, first on loan and then permanently, ending a vastly underwhelming stint at the club, having joined with so much promise, potential, and on an eye-wateringly extortionate wage package.
Reflecting on why he opted for Man Utd in favour of Man City, who were also vying for his signature, Sanchez has revealed the allure of donning Man Utd’s famous No. 7 shirt — one previously worn by the likes of David Beckham and Cristiano Ronaldo — proved too grand an opportunity for him to pass up.
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Sanchez told La Tercera: “I was about to go to City. I spoke to Guardiola every day, he told me happy birthday. He was like my dad. He was my dad at Barcelona and he was like my dad at City. We talked, we talked every day, he sent me messages. And everything was ready, there was a player who was going to go to Arsenal.
“Then [Arsene] Wenger tells me you are not leaving because the other player did not want to come and they do not have another. Suddenly the cell phone rings. Mourinho tells me: ‘Alexis, here is the seven [shirt] available for you’.”
Reportedly on a wage of around £350,000-a-week, Sanchez has explained why his move to Man Utd wasn’t influenced by monetary incentive: “It wasn’t a money thing, so everyone knows. It was the same with United and City. And he said to me here is the seven, we are playing in the Champions League and we are going to give everything. I wanted to leave at that moment, but I had Guardiola’s word.
“That’s when I said to myself, Chilean footballer playing for Manchester United, something that has never happened. With the seven of [Eric] Cantona, Beckham, Cristiano Ronaldo and now a Chilean had it, it was a dream.”