Manchester United’s Alexis Sanchez was a notable absentee from the squad that flew out to the United States this week. Daley Blind, who has sealed a return to Ajax this week was excluded from travelling on the club’s pre-season tour, but the Chilean wasn’t among the party that flew from Manchester Airport, prompting questions as to his absence.
The Independent have revealed that Sanchez, who arrived at the club last January from Arsenal in a deal that saw Henrikh Mkhitaryan head in the other direction, was denied a visa to the US due to a 16-month suspended jail sentence. This was in relation to charges of tax fraud during his time playing at Barcelona that the former Udinese forward accepted earlier this year, and United had been hoping to fly the player over imminently, but the appeal process, which typically takes place through a waiver system has taken more time than was anticipated.
The issue from United’s perspective is that Sanchez could miss out on the majority of the club’s pre-season programme; the reds play five friendlies against Club American, SJ Earthquakes, AC Milan, Liverpool and Real Madrid before travelling to Germany for a final friendly with Bayern Munich on August 5th. That game takes place five days prior to the start of the Premier League campaign, with United at home to Leicester City on Friday 10th, and with Sanchez enjoying a summer away from international commitments for the first time in several years, it would be a huge annoyance for Jose Mourinho if one of his trusted players misses the pre-season tour.
Sanchez’s absence also comes at a time where a large chunk of United’s squad is either on holiday or recovering from their exertions in the World Cup. Ashley Young, Jesse Lingard, Marcus Rashford, Marouane Fellaini, Paul Pogba and Romelu Lukaku all reached the semi-finals of the tournament in Russia, so Sanchez being unable to feature for at least the first few games of this summer’s tour limits Mourinho’s options somewhat.