London (AFP) – Alexis Sanchez will make his Manchester United debut on Friday after being named in the Premier League giants’ starting line-up for their FA Cup fourth-round tie away to lower league Yeovil Town.
The team posted on United’s official Twitter feed just over an hour before the 1955 GMT kick-off showed Sanchez in the side just days after he completed a move from Premier League rivals Arsenal on Monday that will reportedly make him the highest-paid earner in English football’s top flight, with a weekly wage of some £500,000 ($710,000; 571,000 euros).
Earlier on Friday, Sanchez, 29, found his name attached to a doping row following reports he had missed a routine drugs test that, coincidentally, was scheduled on the day of his move from the Emirates to Old Trafford.
But Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger insisted Friday that any blame lay with the Gunners and not Sanchez himself, given it appears he was still a registered player with the London giants when any possible infraction of anti-doping rules took place.
“It is just a bad day for him to be tested,” Wenger said. “Honestly, on the administration side it would still be our responsibility because he had not moved.”
The veteran French manager added: “The most important is the intentions are right. The intention of Alexis was certainly not to hide, nor was our intention to hide anything. We have nothing to hide.”
Premier League leaders Manchester City had been linked with a transfer window move for Sanchez but baulked at an estimated Arsenal asking price of £35 million, as well as the Chile forward’s wage demands.
That opened the door to United completing a swap move, with midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan joining Arsenal in exchange for Sanchez.
But United manager Jose Mourinho accused City of sour grapes over their failure to sign Sanchez, albeit by using a metaphor regarding oranges.
“I didn’t listen to anyone moaning about (the cost),” Mourinho said Thursday.
“I think Alexis reminds me a little bit of the history — I don’t know, it’s not a history, almost a metaphor — when you see a tree with amazing oranges in the top of the tree and then you cannot get there.”
The Portuguese boss added: “You say, ‘oh, I got the lower ones because I don’t like the ones at the top’. You like the ones at the top. They are so nice, so orange, so round, so full of juice but you cannot get there, so you say, ‘I don’t want to go there’ or ‘I didn’t like, I prefer the other ones.’ I think it reminds me a little bit of that story.”
Meanwhile, former England midfielder Michael Carrick was given his first United start since September and named as captain for Friday’s tie.
Carrick has had a minor procedure to deal with a heart problem and earlier this month Mourinho said he would retire from playing at the end of the season, adding there was a place waiting for him on United’s coaching staff if the 36-year-old wanted it.
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