Robert Pires denies Alexis Sanchez wanted to leave Arsenal for money, and says the Chilean is going because the Gunners wouldn’t buy players to support him.

Last summer, and at the start of the January transfer window, it seemed like Sanchez would go to Manchester City.

Then City pulled out, apparently because they wouldn’t match Manchester United’s financial offer. Many fans and pundits have focused on that detail, with Martin Keown calling Sanchez “the biggest mercenary in football”.

Pires doesn’t agree.

The former Gunner told La Tercera (via “No, he is not a mercenary. Martin is my friend, but I don’t think you can say that. That’s football, and if City does not want Sanchez anymore, it’s their problem. And if United wants him and is willing to spend a lot of money, good for him.

“But for me, Alexis wanted to stay at Arsenal. I have not talked to him, but what I see, what I smell, is that he was very good in London, very good in Arsenal. What Alexis wanted was for Arsenal to spend money on other players.”

As the Frenchman admits, this claim doesn’t actually come from Sanchez’s mouth. It’s just Pires’ evaluation of the situation. It makes sense though, because generally the club haven’t done enough to build around the Chilean.

The 2016/17 season was one of the worst Premier League seasons in a very long time. To address that, Arsenal spent money on just one player, and sold a few members of the first-team squad.

This January looks like it’ll have more incomings than the summer, and when is that ever the case?

That’s one answer for why Sanchez wants to leave Arsenal. True or not, it doesn’t explain why he didn’t go to Manchester City.

He could have put a transfer request in, or refused to sign for United. That way Arsenal would have to accept City’s offer or force him to stay until he left for free in the summer anyway.

In the end, whatever Pires says, Sanchez chose United. Based on Mourinho’s sides compared to Guardiola’s, I can think of 500,000 reasons a week it wasn’t to win trophies.