ABU DHABI // Playing regular football could be the factor that allows Al Ain to pip the English Premier League giants Manchester United and Liverpool to the signature of the Chilean striker Alexis Sanchez. The unlikely scenario has become a possibility because it is unlikely either of the big-spending English clubs would use the 20-year-old forward as a first-choice player.
Sanchez, who plays for the Italian Serie A club Udinese, has been on the radar of Sir Alex Ferguson and Rafael Benitez for some time, but the his agent, Fernando Felicevich, is not prepared to let him spend his days on the bench. This is where the ambitious Pro League side may have an edge, along with the fact they already have a familiar face to Sanchez who is trying to entice him into joining the club.
Sanchez's Chile teammate, Jorge Valdivia, who played a hugely influential role in his first season with Al Ain, helping them to win the Etisalat and the President's Cup and finish third in the Pro League to earn an automatic qualification for next year's Asian Champions League, is reportedly behind the move to sign the promising youngster. "There is no issues on how much the player wants," said a source close to the club. "Al Ain is prepared to pay whatever Alexis will be offered from the two Premier League clubs. But it is up to him to decide where he goes finally," said a source close to Al Ain.
"His agent is not happy for the player to spend his time on the bench with either United or Liverpool, and that may give Al Ain an opportunity of signing him for at least one season. And Valdivia will surely have played a major role if Sanchez decides to move to Al Ain." Udinese are reluctant to part with Sanchez, and have turned down a 25million (Dh127.5m) bid from Bayern Munich. However, Sanchez has a buy-out clause in his contract and has made no secret of his desire for a move.