It seems to be a near certainty that Alexis Sanchez will be joining Manchester United this January. The details of the transfer are still unknown, but Mkhitaryan will likely head to Arsenal as a result. Now, Mourinho must figure out where to play Alexis to get the best out of both the player and the team.
Sanchez spent most of his time at Arsenal out on the left wing, and some expect him to maintain that role in Manchester. However, after taking a look at United’s squad, it is apparent that the left-wing role is already well accounted for. Anthony Martial has become the starter in that position, and with due reason. A natural striker, he has done well to adapt to his new position. He often cuts inside, with his diagonal runs creating space all over the pitch. Martial has also mastered the art of curling shots to the back post, opening up his hips and hitting a beautiful finesse shot. He would not be able to do that if he is out on the right, however. Rashford is another player who much prefers the left side to the right, often coming in as a sub to replace Martial late in games. He has hit a rough patch of form in recent weeks, but most expect the youth prospect to be back to his best in no time. Alexis still might force his way onto the left, but these two youngsters prove enough cover at the position already.
There are few positions that are guaranteed to certain players in this United lineup. One of those guaranteed starters is Lukaku, who has only missed one league game this season. However, that does not mean he will go the remainder of the season. Him and Alexis seem like a quality pairing on paper, and they might just get the chance to prove it on the field. They aren’t similar players, which is why this strike force could work wonders. Lukaku is the big lad who can win headers and hold up play, while Alexis would be the technical one of the two and could run in behind the spaces in the defence. However, Mourinho has used a 4-3-3 all season, and would have to make a massive change to the rest of his team to accompany the two strikers. There are some that think Alexis could play behind Lukaku, but that role might ask too much of the Chilean defensively.
While at Barcelona, Sanchez predominantly played out on the right wing, with Messi in the middle and Pedro/Neymar on the left. This position is one that has had a rotating cast for United this season. Mkhitaryan started most games early in the season, but has lost all his good form, and will be headed to Arsenal in the Sanchez deal. Lingard was then given a run out on the right, but it became clear he was better suited playing in the middle of the park. Nowadays, Mata usually gets the start, but he is no classic winger either. The diminutive Spaniard usually roams all over the pitch, which leaves space out on the right side. Alexis Sanchez could become the guy to make that position his own. He would bring some needed width to the side, as his quickness allows him to blow by most full backs. He should be given the freedom to roam inside if he feels the need, but his versatility will keep defences guessing.