There’s a lot of movement at Old Trafford. After one-and-a-half years, there’s also some movement in Alexis Sanchez’s career. His season-long loan transfer to Inter Milan could finally pull him out of stagnation at Manchester United and help him move upward again. At least United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer believes so.
How one of the Premier League’s most consistent stars and highest-paid players went on to become one of its biggest flops in a matter of months is best classified as a mystery. Just eight months before his move to Manchester United in January 2018, he was named Arsenal’s player of the year.
But, after playing 45 matches and scoring five goals for United, his high point at Manchester seems to have been his unveiling as a United player in a video of him playing “Glory, glory, Man United” on the piano.
The loan does not come with an option to buy as Solskjaer believes the Chilean could come back to his former self after a brief spell in Italy. The United boss had sent the forward out on loan to Inter at a time when he admits he’s short of players in attack after Romelu Lukaku’s permanent switch to the same club.
Italy is the hottest destination for United players this summer. After Lukaku and Sanchez, Chris Smalling, too, made it to Roma. Harry Maguire’s record-breaking arrival at Old Trafford has meant Solskjaer has an excess of central defenders and Smalling has fallen way down the pecking order, even below 21-year-old Axel Tuanzebe. Maguire and Victor Lindelof are Solskjaer’s first choices. Smalling, who, not so long ago, was the first choice centre-back, had signed a new three-year contract with United in December, just before Solskjaer's arrival fancied the “new challenge” in Rome. Roma has no obligation or option to buy the 29-year-old at the end of the £2.7 million loan deal.
United’s Italian exodus doesn’t stop with Smalling. Matteo Darmian is also returning to Italy with on a four-year deal with Parma. The full-back, who has spent four seasons at United after joining from Torino for £13 million, made 92 appearances for the club but has fallen out of favour lately, making only 13 appearances since December 2017.
French side Lille has signed Renato Sanches from Bayern Munich for €20 million, making him the club’s record signing. It brings to an end three disappointing years at Bayern for the 22-year-old Portuguese. Much was expected of him when he was brought to the Allianz Arena as a teenager for €35 million after consistently impressive performances for Benfica and Portugal in EURO 2016. But it was all downhill from there. After failing to cement a first team spot, he spent the 2017-18 season on loan at Swansea City. He was fined €10,000 for publicly stating his dissatisfaction due to lack of game time and things eventually reached a crescendo with him stating his desire to leave.
Meanwhile, Bayern legend Franck Ribery has signed for free with Serie A side Fiorentina. Ribery left the club at the end of his contract last season after spending 12 successful years at the club. He joins his former teammate’s half-brother Kevin-Prince Boateng at Fiorentina. The Italian club, which finished 16th in the Serie A last season, has had a busy summer in the transfer market after being bought by Rocco Commisso, chief executive officer of cable TV company Mediacom, in June. The club has also signed Lazio midfielder Milan Badelj, Erick Oulgar from Bologna and Pol Lirola from Sassuolo.
Arsenal bid adieu to full-back Nacho Monreal after six seasons and 250 appearances for the club. The 33-year-old has joined La Liga side Real Sociedad on a two-year deal for an undisclosed fee. Leaving with him, albeit on loan, is Mohamed Elneny, who joins Turkish side Besiktas for a year. The Egyptian made only eight appearance last season and the loan signing of Dani Ceballos from Real Madrid has allowed Elneny to move to get more game time. Mexico’s World Cup star Hirving “Chucky” Lozano has signed for Carlo Ancelotti’s Napoli in a €42 million deal, eclipsing Gonzalo Higuain as the Italian club’s most expensive signing and becoming the most expensive Mexican footballer of all time. Lozano, who was earlier linked with a move to Manchester United, comes from Dutch side PSV Eindhoven with remarkable stats on his side. PSV paid €12 million to Pachuca for him in 2017 and he repaid the investment with 40 goals and 23 assists in 79 appearances for the club, making him among the best in Europe. The 24-year-old who gained worldwide attention for his performance at the 2018 World Cup has signed a five-year-deal with Napoli and could be the ideal long-term partner up front for Arkadiusz Milik in the post-Dries Mertens era
Meanwhile, Ivan Strinic was released from his AC Milan contract by mutual consent. A terrible year comes to an end for the left-back who joined from Sampdoria in 2018. The Croatian failed to make a single appearance for the Rossoneri and was also diagnosed with a heart condition that forced him out for three months.
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