How Will Jose Mourinho Fit Alexis Sanchez into His Manchester United Team?

As the announcement videos are filmed and edited, the finishing touches done to the deal, and the 'Alexis 7' jerseys printed in the Manchester United megastore, one man will not be concerned with any of that.

Jose Mourinho has been irritated by the slow process of officially making Alexis Sanchez a Manchester United player, held up by Henrikh Mkhitaryan heading in the other direction, to Arsenal.

Mourinho's focus will be on where Sanchez should operate in his team, who could be sacrificed, and which combination would be most effective. The formation is likely to remain the same, Mourinho's preferred and successful 4-2-3-1 will suit Sanchez's style.

At the Emirates Stadium, Arsene Wenger tended to deploy Sanchez on the left side of the attack, with his ability to cut in from the right proving to be a continually dangerous tool. In three-and-a-half years, Sanchez scored 80 goals for Arsenal with 67 coming from his right foot and just four with his left.

There is one problem that Mourinho is likely to encounter, though. The left side of his attack is brimming with talent and confidence, the position currently being shared between the sparkling Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford.

Martial has three goals in his last three Premier League games for United, and he is growing into the kind of player Mourinho and the Old Trafford board expected him to be. Between them, Martial, 22, and Rashford, 20, have provided 13 goals and nine assists in the league so far this season. Mourinho won't want to disrupt that progression.

Jose Mourinho
Jose Mourinho at the Riverside Stadium, Middlesbrough, England, March 19, 2017. Mourinho's next job is to decide where Alexis Sanchez will fit into his team. Matthew Lewis/Getty

So Sanchez can go on the opposite side? Maybe. The right hand side of attack has been filled by Juan Mata in recent weeks, but the Spaniard's future at Old Trafford is far from certain. He is out of contract at the end of the season and currently free to speak to other clubs. But given Sanchez's statistics, he is less effective on the right.

That may see Mourinho try Sanchez in the number 10 position, where he will still be able to cut onto that lethal right foot and enjoy plenty of possession. He will also be close enough to Romelu Lukaku to build a partnership with the big Belgian.

The collateral damage would be Jesse Lingard, who has thrived in the number 10 role and been United's most improved player under Mourinho, scoring eight goals in his last 12 games. Yet Lingard is as effective from the right hand side of attack as he is in the center.

Dropping Sanchez into an attack that is growing in confidence and reaching its peak will leave Mourinho purring. The prospect of catching Manchester City, be it this season or next, looks more likely with Sanchez in the red of United.