Manchester United’s ‘mission impossible’ for the clash against Barcelona have been handed a huge boost after it was confirmed Alexis Sanchez is now injury free and could feature against his old club. The Chilean international has not featured for United since he injured his knee in the Red Devils victory over Southampton in February.
Sanchez has failed to justify his high wage since he made the move from Arsenal last year. The 30-year old has failed to live up to expectations at Old Trafford with a series of underwhelming performances.
But with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer desperate to boost his attack at the Nou Camp, Sanchez is set to be included in the squad for the Champions League quarter-final second leg. United failed to register a single shot on target in their 1-0 defeat to Barca on Wednesday night – with Solskjaer admitting his side have lost their cutting edge during a run of one win in five games. Sanchez is fit again after a knee injury and is set to be included in the squad to face his former club.
Solskjaer confirmed: “He is training with us, he’s trained twice. I’m not sure if he’s going to be available against West Ham. “He’s injury-free but not sure 100 percent for tomorrow. Maybe he’s more likely for the Barcelona game.” United are reluctant to give up on Sanchez, despite his woeful form since being signed on as the club’s highest-paid player on around £450,000-a-week.
Solskjaer will be given the ultimate decision, but the Norwegian has so far failed to get the best out of the 30-year-old, who has endured an injury-ravaged season. Sanchez has fallen behind Marcus Rashford, Romelu Lukaku, Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard in the pecking order – but Solskjaer accepts he needs to sharpen his attack to keep his Champions League hopes alive next week.
United’s lack of goals has cost them dearly as they crashed out of the FA Cup against Wolves and then lost ground in the race for the top four with defeats to Arsenal and Wolves again. Since their 3-1 win against Paris Saint-Germain last month, they have scored just three times in five games.
Solskjaer said: “You are never happy when you don’t win games, but it’s been a period where we’ve played some good teams and had some good performances. But we haven’t had the quality and belief in front of goal. “We should have won against Wolves and Arsenal in the two league games. We should have won with the amount of chances we had.
“We’ve been practising. As a striker I know how important that little bit of belief is, so we’ve been putting balls in goals. “Sometimes you just don’t have that little feel, that confidence, so you have to do it in training and hope it comes out again because we have been fantastic, but not ruthless or clinical in front of goal.”
Sanchez has only scored two goals this season after suffering hamstring and knee injuries. But they were crucial strikes to seal a comeback win against Newcastle for Jose Mourinho in October – and the opening goal in victory against Arsenal in the fourth round of the FA Cup.
Lukaku believes Sanchez can still have an impact on United’s bid to secure a Champions League finish and overcome Barca to reach the semi-finals. The Belgian said: “He is good, he has trained with the group this week and he is playing well. I hope he will play soon with us and hopefully he will be able to help us next week. “He is a very positive person and he has a lot of respect in the club. For me the most important thing is that he is the happiest he can be and that us as players must give him more confidence.
“With the qualities that he has he can be one of the best players in the league because the way he trains every day, he shows us his quality and for me I hope that he can help us finish in the top four and go on in the Champions League.” Solskjaer still believes United secure a top-three finish, despite sitting five points adrift of third-placed Chelsea.
He added: “If we get 15 points we’ll be top three because in those games hopefully we’ll beat Chelsea. But now it’s about West Ham and focusing on a good performance to give us three points. “We want top three. Top four is also an aim if we don’t get 15 points, but we should aim for 15 points.”
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