Alexis Sanchez snubbed ‘dad’ Pep Guardiola to follow in footsteps of David Beckham & Cristiano Ronaldo as Man Utd No.7

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Pep Guardiola Alexis Sanchez
Alexis Sanchez snubbed “dad” Pep Guardiola in order to follow in the footsteps of David Beckham and Cristiano Ronaldo as a No.7 at Manchester United.
  • Chilean left Arsenal in January 2018
  • Had discussed move to the Etihad Stadium
  • Ended up at Old Trafford

WHAT HAPPENED? The Chilean forward was a man in demand during the winter transfer window of 2018, with Manchester City seemingly leading the race for his signature at one stage. Guardiola was eager to be reunited with the South American at the Etihad Stadium, having previously worked with him at Barcelona, and had a swap deal lined up. Those talks broke down, though, leading Sanchez to accept an offer from United and Jose Mourinho that allowed him to inherit an iconic jersey at Old Trafford.

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WHAT THEY SAID: Sanchez has told La Tercera of that saga: “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’.”

Sanchez added on ending up on the red half of Manchester on a reported £350,000-a-week contract: “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.”

THE BIGGER PICTURE: Sanchez struggled badly at United, registering just five goals through 45 appearances before eventually leaving on loan to Inter, but he has no regrets and believes he would have thrived had he ended up at City. He added: “I don't regret going to United. Things happen for a reason. I would have liked to have gone to City, yes. We would have won the Champions League by now. In the final I would have done something.”

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Alexis Sanchez Manchester United

Alexis Sanchez Manchester United

Pep Guardiola Alexis Sanchez Barcelona

WHAT NEXT? Sanchez fared a little better in Italy with Inter, finding the target on 20 occasions through 109 appearances, but he is now on the books of Ligue 1 side Marseille and has registered 16 efforts for them in a 2022-23 campaign that has seen a lost spark rekindled.