Manchester United’s new signing Alexis Sanchez has broken records for shirt sales, the club’s executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward has revealed.
Following Sanchez’s arrival at Old Trafford from Arsenal last month as part of a swap deal for Henrikh Mkhitaryan, United sold over three times as many shirts featuring his name as any previous January transfer.
Woodward also told investors in a conference call that signing the Chilean forward — who United made the Premier League’s highest-paid player ever — also drove record engagement figures for the club on social media platforms.
Sanchez’s United contract, reportedly worth £450,000 per week, puts more strain on a wage bill which already made up half of club costs and rose 9.4 per cent to £69.9m in the three months to 31 December.
"Our solid business model has allowed us to invest in the future of the club with the extension of Jose Mourinho's contract as manager and the acquisition of Alexis Sanchez,” said Woodward.
“Swapping [Henrikh] Mkhitaryan for Sanchez further strengthened Jose’s attacking options.
“This trade generated some interesting social media stats. It was the biggest Manchester United post on Instagram with 2m likes and comments. It was the most shared United Facebook post ever. The most retweeted United post ever. And #Alexis7 was the No1 trending topic on Twitter worldwide. To put all that into context, the announcement posts generated 75 per cent more interactions than the announcement of the signing of the world’s most expensive player last summer, when Neymar moved from Barcelona to PSG.
“Alexis Sanchez has set a new January signing record in terms of shirt sales, three times our previous record.”
United’s operating profit of £28.7m in the second quarter represented a 23 per cent drop on the same period last year, a fall the club attributed to US president Donald Trump’s corporate tax cut from 35 to 21 per cent.
The New York-listed club said this would help them long term but required an accounting write-off of £48.8m.
Wages rose in the period due to the club’s return to the Champions League, which triggered extra payments in players’ contracts.