Alexis Sanchez’s arrival will certainly change plans for Manchester United going forward.
The arrival of the Chilean star will add some much-needed flair to United’s attacking line, but now the obvious comes into play. How should Manchester United line-up with the club’s new n°7 already training with the squad? The one thing that we DO know is that there are lots of alternatives regarding where to play him.
Sanchez can operate on the right, on the left, on the centre as a deep-lying forward, or as a striker. The possibilities are endless with the Chilean on board. But how should the team line-up on the attacking line with Sanchez fully inserted into the squad? For this exercise we will use a 4-2-3-1 system, as that’s the tactical scheme Mourinho has used through most of the current campaign.
Right wing: Juan Mata
There is a lot of uncertainity regarding Mata’s future. Some want him gone, and others believe he is one of the most consistent players on the team. But make no mistake. With Henrikh Mkhitaryan gone, Mata is the best alternative for the right-winger role. His creativity and accurate touch on the final meters is something no other player on the roster currently has. He is far better suited to play as a n°10, but we know Mourinho is not going to play him there anywhere soon. As such, it’s worth to keep him there. He has proven to be the team’s best alternative for that position.
Attacking midfielder: Jesse Lingard
Several players could feature on the attacking midfielder role. There is Mata, there is Paul Pogba, Ander Herrera, and even Zlatan Ibrahimovic could adopt into a deeper role. But Mourinho has found his man, and that is no other than Jesse Lingard.
Lingard came through the youth ranks as a winger, but he has transitioned to an attacking midfielder this season. Mourinho gave Lingard confidence to play as a n°10 on a central role, and he has thrived. Excellent performances against teams such as Watford and Burnley have seen him become even better as the season goes on. And while the team might have better alternatives out there, Lingard is expected to remain as a n°10 for the time being.
Left wing: Alexis Sanchez
Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford have alternated on that role. Both players have had their moments, but neither has looked very convincing. As such, it is widely expected that Sanchez will become the regular starter on that position. He has been playing on the left wing since his Barca days, and he also featured on that role while playing for both Arsenal and Chile in the past few years.
After all, there must be a reason why the team signed him to such as a record contract, right? Expect him to start as soon as he’s fit.
Striker: Romelu Lukaku
This does not have any alternative. With Zlatan out, Lukaku is the only reliable striker force on the current squad. Expect him to remain as a starter. even if he hasn’t been able to respond to expectations at times.