The Mourinho flop who cost £6m for every goal scored

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Manchester United’s rich and storied history of overpaying significantly for players who failed to live up to expectations doesn’t appear to be going away.

Although Erik ten Hag has signed a few stars who could form the backbone of the team for the next few seasons, notably Andre Onana, Lisandro Martinez, Casemiro and Rasmus Hojlund, but extravagant fees have also been spent on certain arrivals who have yet to shine.

Antony cost the Red Devils £86m in the summer of 2022 from Ajax and has since scored just eight times, hardly the return such a significant investment promised.

Mason Mount was signed this summer for £60m, yet he hasn’t exactly lit up Old Trafford as yet as he sits on the treatment table, and while these two players have time on their side, the club overpaid for them, without a shadow of a doubt.

Unfortunately, this has been happening at the Red Devils since Sir Alex Ferguson retired in 2013 under a succession of managers who tried to emulate the achievements of the great man in the United hot seat.

Indeed, it was under Jose Mourinho that the club arguably wasted the most money, with players such as Paul Pogba and Romelu Lukaku underachieving massively during their stints in Manchester.

It was perhaps the signing of Alexis Sanchez which proved to be one of Mourinho’s worst during his spell as manager, especially considering the hype surrounding his move.

How much did Manchester United sign Alexis Sanchez for?

The Old Trafford side shelled out £30m to sign the former Barcelona star from the Gunners during the 2018 January transfer window.


Mourinho heaped praise on him during his arrival, saying: “Alexis is one of the best attacking players in the world and he will complete our very young and talented group of attacking players.

“He will bring his ambition, drive and personality – qualities that make a Manchester United player.”

His record in the Premier League had been wonderful under Arsene Wenger, scoring 60 goals in the top flight across just three and half seasons, while netting 80 goals and grabbing 65 assists overall, suggesting the £30m could turn into a bargain.

These attacking qualities combined with his prior experience in England surely meant the Chilean would become a huge success in Manchester. How wrong could it go?

What happened to Alexis Sanchez?

Despite arriving with much fanfare at United that winter, Sanchez had been struggling for Arsenal during the opening months of the 2017/18 campaign, even being dubbed “woeful” by journalist John Cross mere weeks before moving north.

He had netted just eight times during the opening half of that season, yet a fresh start was perhaps required for him to hit the heights during his first three years in London.

Sanchez ended up scoring three goals and registering five assists across just 16 games in the Premier League and FA Cup, which was a solid if unspectacular start to his United career and surely this would be used as a base from which to build on during the following term.

It proved to be a false dawn, as the versatile forward managed to score twice across 27 matches, a terrible return for a player of his quality and there were now huge question marks over his signing.

The Chilean started only nine league matches that campaign, while averaging just 0.5 shots on target per game, creating only six big chances and succeeding with 0.7 dribble attempts during his spell on the pitch.

Across the whole United squad for these attacking metrics, he ranked tenth, fifth and sixth, hardly the type of form which was going to spearhead the club to glory or repay the £30m fee which was shelled out to lure him to the club 18 months prior.

Having scored just five goals for United, he cost them a staggering £6m per effort just on the fee alone. Evidently, this was a gigantic waste of money during a time when they were struggling to achieve success.

Where is Alexis Sanchez now?

His valuation, as per Football Transfers stood at €47.3m (£41m) upon his arrival at the Red Devils in 2018, yet when he left to join Inter Milan on a free transfer – following a season-long loan during the 2019/20 campaign – his value had dropped rapidly, sitting at just €13.6m (£12m), representing a fall of £29m.

His spell in Italy was far more productive than the previous few years spent in England as he ended up scoring 20 goals and grabbing 23 assists for Inter, helping them win the Serie A title during the 2020/21 campaign.

Alexis Sanchez statistics (via Sofascore)

2018/19 (last season at United)

2019/20 (first season at Inter Milan)




Shots on target per game



Big chances created



Key passes per game



Successful dribbles per game



Across the whole Inter squad that term, Sanchez ranked third for shots on target per game (0.5), seventh for big chances created (eight) and fourth for key passes per game (1.2), showing a pleasant return to form on the continent and giving Ole Gunnar Solskjaer a taste of what he was missing.

He spent a season in France with Marseille as he continued to prove that there is still life in the old dog yet, finishing the 2022/23 campaign with 18 goals and three assists in all competitions which led to him joining Inter yet again during the summer transfer window.

These statistics go to show that there was an issue at United, rather than with Sanchez as his form before and after his spell at the club has allowed him to demonstrate his vast attacking abilities.

There is no doubt he flopped in Manchester, but with a more stable environment and more regular game time, could Sanchez have actually succeeded?

Who knows, but it was once again a waste of money by Mourinho, who in his bid to return United to their glory years, ended up splurging case left right and centre on a collection of players who simply weren’t up to the task.

Ten Hag will have taken note of his predecessors’ mistakes in charge of the 13-time Premier League winners, yet with the aforementioned fees for Antony and Mount big talking points, it’s evident that the club still have a penchant for spending lavish fees on players who are potentially worth a lot less.

#Mourinho #flop #cost #goal #scored

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