Jose Mourinho insists he never doubted that Alexis Sanchez was the right choice for Manchester United as the Chile star faces his old club Arsenal this weekend.
United beat Manchester City to sign Sanchez in the January transfer window by making him the Premier League’s highest-paid player on £600,000-a-week.
The 29-year-old forward struggled to adapt to his new club at first but has hit better form in recent weeks, helping United come from behind to win the Manchester derby and then beat Tottenham in the FA Cup semi-final.
Mourinho claims that he always knew that Sanchez would come good, even though he maintains that United will not see the best of him until next season.
‘He was playing in our competition for years,’ said the United boss. ‘We all knew how good he was. That’s why he was chased by many teams, I believe, and why we fought to have him here.
‘Since day one, I was sure he was the right player, not just by the typical football qualities but also by his mentality. We needed that; a little bit more experience, mental aggressiveness and I knew sooner or later were coming.
‘I don’t like the January market but it was now or never. Now if we can have good Alexis until the end of the season then better for us. We need seven points and we have a Cup Final to play, and can he help us, I hope so. Next season, after pre-season, after being comfortable and adapted, he’s going to be great for us.’
Mourinho will look to build on Sanchez’s signing this summer and insisted there is ‘no chance’ that David De Gea will be sold despite renewed interest from Real Madrid in the Spain goalkeeper.
Meanwhile, the Portuguese coach again defended himself over criticism that he allowed Mo Salah to leave Chelsea during his time in charge at Stamford Bridge. The Egypt international went on to star for Roma and Liverpool, and is a Balon d’Or contender after picking up the Player of the Year award.
Mourinho believes he deserves the credit for bringing Salah to Chelsea in the first place, saying: ‘It’s easier for you to say negative things about me and not positive things.
‘Everybody knows I bought Salah. I was at Chelsea, he was at Basle. I am responsible for the players I bring to the club and he came to the club in my period. I was the person that, obviously with Chelsea’s agreement, the board, the owner, people responsible for finance, but from the technical point of view I was the person who brought Salah to the country.
‘We played against Basle. He played against me. Before I play matches, especially international matches, I spend a lot of time analysing the opposition I don’t know as well. I watch and I told the club to buy that fantastic young player. This is the reality.
‘He was not playing a lot and that is my responsibility as a coach and we decided with him it was better to have a loan period to play to grow up to become stronger – internally again with the board and technical director.
‘We thought Italian football could be good for him to develop and he went to Fiorentina. After that, I left and I am not responsible for the process.
‘But credit to him, Jurgen (Klopp), the team, and I am very happy for him. That’s why we keep a good relationship. He is a fantastic boy and he knows I have a great care for him and I’m really happy for the things that are happening for him. He more than deserved Player of the Year.’