Alexis Sanchez signed for Manchester United at the “worst moment” and he will produce better performances next season as a result, according to manager Jose Mourinho.
Sanchez has struggled to make an impact at Old Trafford since a January move from Arsenal, only scoring once in eight competitive appearances.
The 29-year-old was reportedly close to signing for Premier League champions-elect Manchester City before cross-city rivals United swooped to complete a swap deal that saw unwanted Armenia international Henrikh Mkhitaryan move to Arsenal.
And while Mourinho acknowledges Sanchez is yet to display his best form for United, the manager says the timing of the Chile international’s arrival has been a factor.
“He came in the worst moment of the season, which is the winter market,” Mourinho told reporters ahead of Saturday’s Premier League game at home to Liverpool.
“That’s why I don’t like the winter market very much.
“I think this [signing Alexis] was a chance that we didn’t want to lose and we made it.
“But we don’t believe a lot in the winter market and, for sure, next season it will be better for him.
“He’s fine. He’s happy that the team is getting results. Lately, he wasn’t happy when we lost matches with him but he’s a guy with great maturity, with great attitude and we couldn’t be happier.”
Although Sanchez has struggled in front of goal and has been criticised for wastefulness in possession, Mourinho praised the all-round impact of the forward on United’s attacking play.
“He’s not afraid to take responsibility,” Mourinho added.
“Not afraid to try to make things to happen, when he feels that he’s not as dangerous as you’d like him to be.
“He drops back, he tries things, he tries to come to building up areas. When he makes mistakes, he tries to compensate immediately.”