Manchester United will embark on their annual pre-season tour, aiming to arrive in the best shape possible ahead of the 2018-19 season. And as it has been a trend during recent years, The Red Devils will once again travel to United States since they will play several friendly matches and will also take part in the International Champions Cup.
However, things will be different this year. Jose Mourinho will probably feature a depleted side with several youngsters in the beginning of pre-season due to several absences. To note: Paul Pogba, Marouane Fellaini, Romelu Lukaku, Jesse Lingard, Ashley Young, Phil Jones and Marcus Rashford all finished their 2018 World Cup participation this past weekend. New signing Diogo Valot is nursing an injury. Daley Blind will move to Ajax. And Fred is receiving a few days off since he played with Brazil in the World Cup as well. Making a quick count, that’s 10 players that won’t be available early on for Mourinho.
Perhaps the most surprising ommision from the U.S. Tour was the one of Alexis Sanchez, though. The Chilean forward had an up-and-down season for Manchester United since joining from Arsenal during the January transfer window, but he looked motivated early on during the initial training camp sessions. Even Mourinho said the best of Alexis was yet to come, so one thing is certain: the reasons behind his absence have nothing to do with football. Instead, he experienced some visa issues and had to remain at Manchester. It is not clear whether he will be able to join the side at a later date.
So.. why could this end up being a good thing for all parties involved?
One would think that his absence could hurt the side, but it might end up being the other way around. Giving Alexis a few extra days of no games could be quite benefitial for both the team and the player himself. Let’ s remember Chile did not qualify for the 2018 FIFA World Cup either, so Alexis finally got some time off. In the past, he played during the break from 2014 to 2017 with no rest (to note: 2014 World Cup, 2015 Copa America, 2016 Copa America Bicentenario and 2017 Confederations Cup). As a result, Sanchez admitted he was “gassed out” at the end of the season, but things should be different now.
Sure, Sanchez will probably miss the beginning of the tour. And right now it is unclear on whether he will join the side, because Sanchez got the visa denied after accepting a prison charge for tax fraud in February this year. The club confirmed on Monday that Sanchez did not travel due to ‘personal administrative issues’. Sanchez still hopes to receive a visa waiver that will allow him to join the tour at some point. However, his participation is now in some doubt.
And while he will miss on some valuable first-team action to prepare for the season, on the other hand he will get some much-needed rest. And a fresher Sanchez could only mean good things for United this season. The Chilean remains one of the most decisive attackers in the world. Having him 100% fit for the 2018-19 season will be a luxury Mourinho didn’t have at all during the past term.