The East Londoners want you to know they’re a big club. The London Stadium was meant to catapult West Ham into a new era. So, too, was Manuel Pellegrini. Both failed miserably. Supplementing the big new ground and Premier League-winning coach has been a steady stream of big-name signings, with mixed results.
Some, like Dimitri Payet or Felipe Anderson, have worked a treat. Others, like Jack Wilshere and Samir Nasri, have been unmitigated disasters. The jury is still out on Sébastien Haller and Pablo Fornals who, at a cost of £69million, were the two big arrivals last summer.
Now, with their Premier League status very much up in the air – and that’s assuming the 2019/20 campaign resumes at some stage – the Hammers have ‘initiated contact’ over Manchester United flop Sánchez.
According to FC Inter News, the possibility of the Chilean remaining at Internazionale beyond the end of this season is remote. Inter cannot afford the €12million a year it will cost to keep Sánchez beyond his initial loan. After just one goal and three assists in 15 appearances, it looks as though the 31-year-old will become Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s problem once more this summer.
There’s no denying Sánchez was a fine player. But the emphasis is on was. It has been some time since we saw the forward at his rip-roaring best. Breezing past players, driving toward goal purposefully and powerfully and unleashing thunderous efforts. Sadly, that was some time ago now. In fact, the last time Sánchez hit double figures in a league campaign was 2016/17. That was arguably his peak, netting 24 times to win Arsenal’s Player of the Year award.
It’s all been downhill since then.
Joining Inter was a fresh start. It’s been anything but. When Sánchez opened his account for the Nerazzuri in just his third match, the signs were good. A red card was an unfortunate footnote to that win over Sampdoria but the ankle injury suffered in mid-October ruled Sánchez out for three months, ruining any kind of momentum he’d built in his early weeks at San Siro.
In the meantime, Argentine sensation Lautaro Martínez has struck up a good relationship with another United outcast, Romelu Lukaku, leaving Sánchez as the odd man out. Limited to just 199 minutes in Serie A, it’s hard to even draw an accurate conclusion from his statistical output this season.
Sánchez’s lack of involvement has been a hot topic for journalists in Italy but not one which Conte, ever the diplomat, has been keen to discuss.
Speaking after Inter’s draw with Atalanta in January, he said: “You ask me about (Alexis) Sánchez, well in order to play the guys have to be fit. I am not crazy, I am neither an imbecile or someone who likes to hurt himself.
“I know that one plus one makes two, but if in your opinion it makes five. If I decide to put somebody on the pitch it’s because I have my reasons.”
Clearly Sánchez hasn’t done enough to work his way into Conte’s thinking with any regularity. In an Inter squad which is light on forwards, that’s hardly a glowing testimony.
Then there’s the fact he will be 32 by the end of the year. Whoever signs him will surely have to put a three-year contract on the table. And that’s before we get to the small matter of his reported £400,000-a-week contract.
Manchester United need Sánchez off the wage bill if they aren’t going to use him. They are currently paying Sánchez to play for Inter – an indicator of their desperation if ever there was one. But Sánchez isn’t going to readily give up a portion of his salary. Somehow, someone will have to make up the shortfall.
West Ham should avoid being that club. The Hammers have made enough expensive errors in recent history and paid the price. Signing Sánchez would be another which would only set them back further, on their course to become a truly ‘big club’ in the Premier League.