At this point in the summer, Inter fans may be justifiably frustrated with the pace the club is operating at during the mercato. With plenty of holes to fill, and a seemingly plentiful war-chest of assets from Suning, Inter only snatching up a few youth-team players, a backup keeper, a young center back, and a talented (albeit aging) midfielder doesn’t qualify as the fireworks signings we’ve been expecting.
While the club, for better or worse, has taken its time during this transfer window, Inter Milan have seen their closest rivals (by both geographical vicinity and proximity in the last year’s table) AC Milan spend over €100m on six signings so far. We’re still well over a month away from the start of the season, so it would be foolish to draw any conclusions on the balance of power in the league just yet, but we continue to wait for news of Inter and Suning’s big transfer splash to break — something that’s a bit surprising considering the squad’s back in training this week.
Over the weekend, a few rumors appeared saying that Inter are dreaming of making Arsenal superstar Alexis Sanchez their signature “poster boy” recruit this summer. Suning signing the 28-year-old Chilean would certainly be a massive statement of intent, and I have no doubt that Inter are genuinely interested in the player – every team in the world should be. Yet, although GdS’s rumor was picked up by other tabloids and outlets such as the Daily Mirror, Bleacher Report, the Express, and The Sun, this transfer is hard to believe.
Let’s take a closer look at Alexis’ current situation; why in theory the rumor makes sense; and ultimately why it’s very unlikely to happen for Inter.
Why Sanchez, one of the top players in the world, may be available
Alexis Sanchez joined Arsenal in July 2014 after spending three trophy-laden seasons with Barcelona at the Nou Camp, and was an immediate hit with the North London club. Sanchez made 30 or more appearances for Arsenal in each year, and quickly became one of the most prolific players in England. His 72 goals and 37 assists over 145 appearances meant that Sanchez was either scoring or creating a goal in three out of every four matches he played – that’s simply phenomenal.
Despite this fantastic output, Arsenal and Alexis have not yet agreed on a pay-raising contract extension, and his current deal is set to expire after next year. Contract talks stalled between the two sides during the past season, and Arsenal could see their talisman leave for nothing if they don’t work out a deal or sell Sanchez this summer.
Enter the richest clubs in Europe, including Inter.
Why Sanchez to Inter could make sense
Rumors indicate that Sanchez’s preferred destination would be to join former Barcelona manager Pep Guardiola at Manchester City.
Arsenal stars signing with one of Manchester’s two mega-clubs are a time-honored tradition like no other, so seeing the Chilean linked with a move to the Etihad makes sense. However, from Arsenal’s perspective, losing yet another superstar to their northern Premier League rivals would be a nightmare scenario for a club that’s no longer hindered by the costs of building their new stadium.
While they would like to be able to keep Sanchez and work out a new deal, Arsenal may at some point decide that it’s best to move on this summer. If that happens, they’ll want to sell Sanchez to a foreign club, rather than seeing him continue to tear apart Premier League defenses for another team. With an estimated asking price of £80million, there are very few clubs in the world that could pull off signing Sanchez from Arsenal, but due to Suning’s vast resources, Inter are among them.
The Nerazzurri would be able to offer high wages and the chance to link up with star striker Mauro Icardi (just imagine that attacking combo for a second, I’ll wait).
You good? Okay.
Sanchez also has a history in Italy. Prior to joining Barcelona in 2011, Alexis was a stand out for Udinese. While his 21 goals in 112 appearances weren’t spectacular, the Chillean did play well enough to catch the attention of the La Liga giants, as Barcelona paid a €26 million transfer fee for his services.
During his three-year spell in Serie A, Udinese’s highest finish was 4th in 2011, so perhaps Sanchez has a desire to return to Italy and lead a club to a Scudetto. If that’s the case, there are far worse places for one to play their club football than Milan and the San Siro.
While Inter were a mess in recent seasons, the club is starting a new era, and manager Luciano Spalletti has a history of heavily involving his wingers in his clubs’ offensive game plan. With Suning on board, Inter are also an interesting club from a branding perspective for Alexis. The Chinese owners are trying to increase Inter’s brand presence in China and other untapped Asian markets. While he’ll never reach the levels of Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi, or Neymar, if Sanchez comes to Inter and dominates, he could become one of the most popular and beloved athletes in world football. With that in mind, joining one of Europe’s most prestigious clubs may not seem like a bad idea.
Why Sanchez to Inter won’t happen
While we can dream of a Sanchez-Icardi combination, this transfer is very unlikely to happen.
First of all, I’m not convinced Arsenal are ready to give up on extending Sanchez. Manager Arsene Wenger has spent to better part of the last year saying the club won’t sell Alexis or teammate Mesut Ozil. Staying put may also now seem more attractive for Sanchez after Arsenal spent a club record £52.7m to sign French striker Alexandre Lacazette from Lyon. Doing so finally gives Sanchez the chance to play alongside a prolific striker at Arsenal that can match his pace. You also cannot ignore the fact that the English club have been fairly successful during Sanchez’s time at the Emirates, winning a pair of FA Cups during his three years at the club — that’s two more trophies than Inter have won in the past six years.
If you believe the rumors, it seems that Sanchez prefers to stay in England and join up with Guardiola at Manchester City. So, even if Suning were able to convince Arsenal to sell and meet their asking price, Inter would have to then agree to personal terms with Sanchez, which would be a serious challenge. As I outlined last week, the club are not the most attractive destination for top players at the moment, especially without a spot in the Champions League.
If Arsenal decide to sell Alexis to a non-English club, destinations such as Bayern Munich and PSG make more sense. I hate to bring this up, but if Sanchez does want to return to Italy, Juventus also seem like an ideal possibility for the Chilean. Joining forces with fellow South Americans Paulo Dybala and Gonzalo Higuain would create an attacking triumvirate that would rival Barcelona’s MSN and Real Madrid’s BBC — not to mention the near guarantee of winning trophies with the Old Lady.
All of this is to say that Alexis Sanchez is very unlikely to join Inter this summer. The rumors seem to be classic transfer window nonsense. But, hey, here’s hoping I’m wrong!