MANCHESTER, England — Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has backed Alexis Sanchez to play a key role at Manchester United this season despite continued speculation he could still leave Old Trafford.
The Chile international has been linked with a move to Italy before the European transfer deadline on Sept. 2 but Solskjaer has suggested he is ready to hand the 30-year-old a central role in his squad following the departure of Romelu Lukaku to Inter Milan.
“Alexis is such a pro and he comes in working every single day really hard and wants to be a part of this,” Solskjaer told a news conference on Friday. “It’s these stories he’s been put in the reserves — of course he hasn’t.
“He’s had three weeks [training] now, he’s a few weeks behind the rest but close to being ready.”
The trip to Wolves on Monday may come too soon for Sanchez, who returned late to training after picking up a hamstring injury playing for Chile at this summer’s Copa America.
Lukaku’s exit has left Solskjaer short of attacking options but the Norwegian has backed the former Arsenal man — who hasn’t scored a goal for United since January — to come good.
“We don’t have the biggest forward line in terms of numbers so Alexis might end up playing a lot more games than you expect,” Solskjaer said. “We expect him to come good at this club. He’s quality.
“We’ve had a behind closed doors game, he’s training and he’s done a little bit of extras.
“He’ll be gradually integrated into more playing time, but we’ll have more behind closed doors games and one game a week it’s hard to keep players ticking.”