Alexis Sanchez has made a quick impact off the field as well as on it, with the January signing breaking Manchester United’s shirt sales and social media records.
The Chilean had long been expected to join Premier League leaders Manchester City as his Arsenal contract ran down, only for Jose Mourinho’s men to swoop in and snaffle the forward last month.
Sanchez joined in a deal that saw Henrikh Mkhitaryan go the other way, and last weekend he marked his Old Trafford debut with a man-of-the-match display and a goal as Huddersfield were beaten 2-0.
The 29-year-old has also made an impact away from the pitch, according to shirt sales and social media figures announced by executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward.
“Alexis Sanchez has set a new January signing record in terms of shirt sales – three times that previous record,” he said in United’s second quarter 2018 earnings report conference call.
“Last month we further invested in the future of the club by extending Jose Mourinho’s contract and entering into an exchange agreement with Arsenal swapping Mkhitaryan for Sanchez, strengthening Jose’s attacking options.
“This trade generated some interesting social media stats.
“It was the biggest United post on Instagram with two millions likes and comments, the most shared United Facebook post ever, the most retweeted United post ever and #Alexis7 was the number one trending topic on Twitter worldwide.
“To put all that into context, the announcement posts generated 75 per cent more interaction than the sale of the world’s most expensive player last summer when Neymar moved from Barcelona to PSG.”
Woodward pointed to United’s “solid business model” as being behind them signing Sanchez and extending Mourinho’s deal, while it was confirmed that club’s guidance figures are based on reaching the Champions League quarter-finals.
Returning to European football’s top table this season has seen wages rise, with the Red Devils forking out £69.6milion in the second quarter – a 9.4 per cent increase on the previous year.
That is part of the reason behind United’s accounts showing a £29m loss for the period, as is a deferred tax asset impacted by the corporate income tax rate in the United States, which was cut from 35 per cent to 21 per cent during President Donald Trump’s reforms.
United insist it will not affect the club in terms of competitiveness or financial fair play.
An explanation in the club’s financial results read: “This necessitated a re-measurement of the existing US deferred tax position in the period to 31 December 2017.
“As a result the current period tax expense includes a non-cash tax accounting write off of £48.8 million.
“Accordingly, this has resulted in a loss for the period and basic and diluted loss per share for the period.”
United continue to expect revenues for fiscal 2018 to be between £575million and £585million – the third successive year they will earn more than half a billion pounds.