How will Alexis Sanchez compare to Manchester United's post-Ferguson big deals?
Manchester United have at last managed to bring Alexis Sanchez to Old Trafford, with Henrikh Mkhitaryan moving the other way to Arsenal in a swap deal.
United have spent hundreds of millions of pounds on players in a bid to keep up with rivals Manchester City, with Jose Mourinho's old rival Pep Guardiola seemingly leading the Citizens to a runaway title success.
While Sanchez has reportedly not required a transfer fee, his signature will still be a significant outlay for United with the figures bandied about in the media surrounding his basic wage at Old Trafford ranging between £350,000 and £500,000 a week.
Hefty sums are, of course, no guarantee a player will thrive at his new club, as some of United's biggest buys since the retirement of legendary manager Alex Ferguson in 2013 have shown.
Here, we look at 11 of United's most expensive players of the post-Ferguson era and assess how Sanchez might compare in his time at Old Trafford.
MAROUANE FELLAINI - £27.5m
Gareth Bale, Toni Kroos, Cesc Fabregas and Cristiano Ronaldo were among United's top targets when David Moyes replaced Ferguson. But they signed none of those world-class talents, instead ending up with just one major purchase in Marouane Fellaini. As Moyes toiled, Fellaini became a millstone around the former Everton manager's neck, encouraging United to play a far more direct style. However, while Fellaini was a target for derision at one stage, the Belgium international has since turned things around and has been a key player under Mourinho. A knack for scoring vital goals - including the strike that sent United to last season's Europa League final - have helped too.
Success or flop? Success, just about.
JUAN MATA - £37.1m
While Fellaini is one of Mourinho's most trusted lieutenants, the suspicion remains that the Portuguese retains some doubts about Juan Mata. Mourinho was the man who sold Mata to United from Chelsea, and he has hit 30 Premier League goals since swapping Stamford Bridge for Old Trafford. But whether he is in United's strongest team remains open to debate. Capable of individual brilliance, Mata's class in possession has never been in doubt, with consistency his main drawback. But the 29-year-old has just about justified his £37.1m fee.
Success or flop? Success, despite Mourinho's doubts.
— Juan Mata García (@juanmata8) January 15, 2018
ANDER HERRERA - £29m
The tenacity of Ander Herrera in midfield has been one of the key elements of Mourinho's time at United, with the Spaniard providing boundless energy. But the former Athletic Bilbao man should really score more goals. He hit six Premier League strikes in his first Premier League season but has not passed five since. Although he has justified his £29m purchase, whether Herrera is quite good enough for a title challenger remains up for debate.
Success or flop? A minor success.
LUKE SHAW - £30m
Luke Shaw is still struggling to nail down a regular place three-and-a-half years into his United stay. A terrible leg break suffered against PSV in the Champions League in 2015 had a huge impact on former Southampton left-back Shaw, who has not looked the same prospect since. Mourinho's lack of trust in Shaw is obvious - Ashley Young has mainly been preferred at full-back this season – although he did last week say he rates the England international as one of the best left-backs in the world.
Success or flop? Flop, but has time to turn it around.
— Luke Shaw (@LukeShaw23) January 16, 2018
ANGEL DI MARIA - £59.7m
After Louis van Gaal replaced Moyes, United's board opened the cheque book in sensational fashion, bringing Real Madrid's Angel Di Maria to the Premier League for a then-British record £59.7m fee to cap a summer of heavy spending. But Di Maria was a high-profile failure in England, a burglary at his home early in his time at United not helping matters. The Argentine lasted a single season before heading to Paris Saint-Germain. The Ligue 1 giants paid £44.3m to sign Di Maria, meaning United made a significant loss.
Success or flop? Undoubted flop.
ANTHONY MARTIAL - £36m
One British tabloid labelled Anthony Martial a "waste of money" early in the France international's time at the club after it was revealed the fee paid to Monaco could rise close to £60m depending on various add-ons. Martial initially struggled to prove them wrong despite showing signs of huge potential, but eight goals in 21 Premier League appearances this season indicate the 22-year-old is coming good. Fellow 2015 arrivals Memphis Depay, Morgan Schneiderlin and Matteo Darmian all fell short of the required standard at United, however.
Success or flop? On the way to being a big hit.
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) January 5, 2018
ERIC BAILLY - £30m
The first big-money signing of the Jose Mourinho era was Eric Bailly, with the powerful defender prioritised by the Portuguese manager. While a range of injury issues have disrupted Bailly's time at the club, the Ivory Coast international already looks a bargain and he should continue to develop. Whether Victor Lindelof can justify a similar outlay remains to be seen after the former Benfica man made a rocky start to life at Old Trafford.
Success or flop? Success, despite injuries.
Feeling good after today’s training session. Too bad I’m surrounded by these guys pic.twitter.com/a09vpvnHBC
— Eric Bailly (@ericbailly24) October 24, 2017
HENRIKH MKHITARYAN - £30m
Moving to Arsenal as part of the Sanchez deal ends Mkhitaryan's time at United, with the Armenian playmaker never settling at the club. Having lit up the Bundesliga in a three-year spell at Borussia Dortmund, Mkhitaryan looked prime to take the Premier League by storm. But just five league goals in his 18-month stay demonstrate a palpable lack of impact, with the 29-year-old struggling to fit the mould of a Mourinho player.
Success or flop? A massive flop.
PAUL POGBA - £89.3m
That United had to pay a new British record to bring back Paul Pogba is perhaps a sign of the club's muddled thinking in the transfer market in recent years, the Frenchman having left the club on a free to join Juventus four years previously after failing to break through under Ferguson. Pogba at times flattered to deceive in his first campaign under Mourinho, and there have been questions about his ability to influence big matches. But the 24-year-old is undoubtedly the jewel in United's crown and if Mourinho can figure out his best position he could eventually lay claim to be the world's best midfielder.
Success or flop? Already a major success, with lots more to come.
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) August 8, 2016
ROMELU LUKAKU - £75m
With United often short of goals last season despite Zlatan Ibrahimovic's inspirational presence, Mourinho shelled out a whopping £75m to bring in Romelu Lukaku from Everton. The Belgian's record is decent - he has hit 11 Premier League goals this season - but a failure to perform against the Premier League's best teams is becoming a major worry for the Red Devils.
Success or flop? The jury is out.
13 - Romelu Lukaku has had a hand in 13 goals in 16 appearances in all competitions for @ManUtd at Old Trafford this season (10 goals, 3 assists). Stage.
— OptaJoe (@OptaJoe) January 15, 2018
NEMANJA MATIC - £40m
That Chelsea allowed Nemanja Matic to join a top-four rival remains a surprise, with Antonio Conte scarcely able to contain his frustration at the deal, although £40m for a player who will be 30 in 2018 certainly made sense from a business perspective. Matic has been the perfect foil for Pogba to play further forward, although the defensive shield is yet to score for his new club.
Success or flop? A success.