Ole Gunnar Solskjaer sheds light on Alexis Sanchez’s Manchester United future with cryptic sofa analogy

On-loan forward is due to return to Old Trafford in the coming months, but may not find himself with the same role as when he left due to Solskjaer’s desire to regenerate his squad

Jack de Menezes
Sunday 14 June 2020 15:28 BST
How will the Premier League look when it restarts

Alexis Sanchez may still be good enough to salvage his Manchester United career, but Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has given the clearest indication yet that he is not part of his rebuilding plans by giving a cryptic analogy of what the forward offers.

Sanchez returned to action on Saturday with Inter Milan, coming off the substitutes’ bench in the 1-1 draw with Napoli that saw Antonio Conte’s side eliminated from the Coppa Italia semi-finals.

The 31-year-old remains on loan with the Serie A side as it fires back up following the coronavirus-enforced hiatus, though it is expected that the Chile international has not done enough to force that move to be put through permanently. Sanchez will remain with Inter until the 2019/20 campaign is concluded, but a move back to Manchester looks on the cards.

Sanchez’s time at Old Trafford has failed to achieve anything close to what was expected of the South American since he sealed a move from Arsenal in January 2018, resulting in the £400,000-a-week forward being sent to Italy on loan for the season.

With Solskjaer previously admitting that the three-month suspension of football has allowed him the time to take a deep look at his squad and where it can be strengthened, the looming return of Sanchez will have to be one factor that is taken into the manager’s consideration, with Sanchez due back in time for the start of the 20120/21 campaign - whenever that may be.

But while Solskjaer stressed that there is a place for Sanchez in the squad, his words did not fully convince that the Chilean will be a crucial part of his plans going forward.

“Of course there's a place for good players and good people in this environment,” Solskjaer said.

“Let's see where we get to after the season, because we do feel this squad is exciting. We do feel we're on the way to something.

“It's up to all the players when they're here to do well, because there's always talk of people coming in and out, and it's about gelling this group together.”

United are expected to be active in the transfer market when it opens, with Solskjaer again understood to be looking for players who fit his wider plan rather than the star names that United spent so long going after, only to find little success with them.

Solskjaer offered a cryptic anaolgy on Sanchez's future
Solskjaer offered a cryptic anaolgy on Sanchez's future (PA)

The Norwegian used that belief in the right player over the best player to explain an analogy that has given a big sign of what may be in store for Sanchez, given that if he doesn’t fit in with his future plans for United, he may not be required.

“Sometimes when you decorate your living room it might be a nice chair or nice sofa, but it maybe doesn't go with the rest of it,” Solskjaer said, discussing how different players gel within a team environment.

“For us to think about major honours, our focus is about finishing the league this season.”

United resume their Premier League campaign against Tottenham on Friday night, with Solskjaer’s side currently fifth in the table with nine games to play and just three points behind fourth-placed Chelsea. However, they will have keen eyes on the developing situation surrounding Manchester City’s Champions League appeal, which has been heard by the Court of Arbitration for Sport earlier this week and is set to play a key role in deciding which teams qualify for Europe next season, with fifth place potentially earning a place in the Champions League if second-placed City’s ban is upheld.

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