COMMENT: So, c’mon Jurgen. Why Manchester? Why Manchester and not Liverpool? That’s the question Jurgen Klopp should be putting to Alexis Sanchez’s minders this week.
Three years ago, those at Anfield blamed ‘location’. Alexis. Or to be exact: her indoors. Didn’t fancy living in the Northwest. London was more their liking. So when Arsenal came calling and were willing to match Liverpool’s offer, the then Barcelona striker chose south over the north.
So what’s the excuse now?
We’ll get into the weeds of the whole on-off Anfield move later. For the moment, it appears Alexis is agonising over two options in front of him: Bayern Munich or Manchester City.
At Bayern, after all the years of underachievement with Arsenal, Alexis knows the move comes guaranteed with winners’ medals. His agent, the heavyhitter Fernando Felicevich, also favours Munich over Manchester. And at Bayern, he’d find good friend (and fellow Felicevich client), Arturo Vidal.
However, for the Chilean, City represents the more attractive option. He’s happy in England. He enjoys the Premier League. And at City, he’d be reunited with his old Barcelona coach Pep Guardiola.
The London factor? Well, clearly there is no London factor. If City can convince Arsenal to sell within the Premier League, Alexis will happily uproot his family, that is dogs Atom and Humber, and relocate to Cheshire. The ‘wife’, as both Ian Ayre and Brendan Rodgers have described Laia Grassi, has long been out of the picture. In Chile these days, Alexis’ love life can sell as many newspapers as anything he does in an Arsenal shirt.
So why should Liverpool stand aside? Why give City a clear run at a player who they believed was theirs three years ago?
Rodgers, the former Reds manager, and Ayre, the recently departed chief exec, both blamed Grassi for the deal falling through. They’d settled on a £35 million valuation with Barca. Alexis would arrive as part of Luis Suarez’s sale. It was the perfect arrangement. Like-for-like. With Alexis valued at less than half of what Liverpool were raking in for the troubled Suarez.
But then Grassi put her foot down. The soap star wanted London. And when Arsenal called, there was no contest.
However, in Santiago, they claim Liverpool were still in the frame. Yeah, Laia favoured London, but that wasn’t why he penned terms with Arsenal. The Gunners’ contract offer was simply greater. The deal tabled three years ago has only been matched by Liverpool once. And that was this year when they made Philippe Coutinho the highest paid in their history. Arsenal dealmaker Dick Law’s relationship with Felicevich also helped. But, in the end, it all came down to FSG and money.
So what of today? The new Coutinho agreement is a positive. A record for the club. It won’t have been missed by Alexis that Liverpool, backed by FSG, stared down Barca and City to convince Coutinho to sign new terms. After all the soft soap passivity experienced at Arsenal these past three years, such a show of defiance – and ambition – must appeal to the Chilean.
Champions League qualification will also be a plus. As will Klopp and his aggressive, gegenpressing football. If there’s one player to fit the Klopp system it has to be Alexis.
And the German can offer the Gunners striker one thing Guardiola will not: he’ll be the main man at Anfield. At City, that mantle has already been granted to rookie Brazilian Gabriel Jesus. If Sergio Aguero has to play second fiddle to the kid, then why would things change for Alexis? It’d be Barca all over again for the Chilean.
So Alexis to Liverpooldoes line up. Getting that fourth place changes everything. And location has nowt to do with it. It didn’t three years ago. And it certainly doesn’t today.
Why stand aside? Klopp must put the question to Alexis: Why Manchester and not Liverpool?