Jose Mourinho does not believe Alexis Sanchez wants to leave Manchester United in January.
Sanchez has struggled to find his best form since joining United from Arsenal last January. He has started just five of United’s 12 Premier League matches this season, scoring once, and was dropped for the Manchester derby.
Mourinho admits Sanchez is underperforming but feels he still has the desire to turn his United career around.
When asked if he expected Sanchez to leave, Mourinho replied: “I don’t think so because he has never told me that he wants to leave. He never told me that he’s not happy to stay.
“He is playing like the team. He is improving, like the team is improving, when he plays he is giving us his personality.
“His desire is to play and to produce for the team and [he is] trying to adapt to the way we play and vice versa.
“Can he do better? We all can do better. I can do better, he can do better, all the players can do better.”
One of the United players who can “do better” in Mourinho’s mind appears to be out-of-favour centre-back Eric Bailly.
Bailly started United’s first two Premier League games of the season, against Leicester and Brighton, but he gave away a penalty in the 3-2 defeat to the Seagulls and was subsequently dropped.
His only league start since came against Newcastle on October 6 when he was hauled after just 19 minutes with United already 2-0 down.
Mourinho has settled on Victor Lindelof and Chris Smalling as his preferred partnership in central defence, despite United conceding 21 goals in 12 Premier League matches – only four teams have conceded more.
“I think Smalling and Lindelof are playing much better than the beginning of the season,” Mourinho said.
“I decided to give Victor the opportunity of his evolution, evolution with some mistakes yes because he is young, especially young in the Premier League. We decided to give him this continuity which I think it is clear it has improved him.
“Bailly has physical qualities, he is very fast [but] he is not very tall. We thought that Chris Smalling would give some balance in relation to the qualities. Chris is very good in the air. He is tall and dominant in the air.
“Victor, in the building up, is better than Chris. We have found the balance. I repeat, they are not perfect but nobody is perfect. That couple is performing quite well.”
Mourinho has already decided that Bailly will be left out of the match-day squad entirely for the visit of Crystal Palace to Old Trafford on Saturday but hinted he will play against Young Boys in the Champions League on Tuesday.
“We have Phil, [Marcos] Rojo and Eric and I try to make them motivated,” Mourinho said. “To make them motivated – I cannot select the same all the time.
“If I put Phil Jones on the bench five matches in a row and never Rojo or Eric. I’m trying again depending on the matches and situation.
“Marcos is injured a lot of the time so he is a little bit behind but between Phil and Eric, we are working like this. When we decide to make a rotation, when we need to make it we will make it and they are there to play.
“I can tell you because he already knows, tomorrow Eric is not playing and not even on the bench. But don’t be surprised that next Tuesday he plays.”