The Chilean Lands in Italy
Alexis Sanchez is one the greatest footballers Chile has ever produced. He shares his nickname with Fernando Torres, who is also called “El Nino”, which translates to ‘The Wonder Kid’. Sanchez started his European career in Italy with Udinese, for whom he played 112 matches, spanning across 3 seasons. In those three seasons, Sanchez became the most influential player in the club, scoring 20 goals and setting up 21 more in that time. His ability to dribble and his high work-rate saw the bigger clubs in Europe take attention. It was in the summer of 2011 when FC Barcelona came calling for Alexis Sanchez and he obliged. The Chilean moved to Catalunya for a transfer fee of £25m, which made him the most expensive Chilean footballer of all time.
Sanchez, Messi and Villa
At the Camp Nou, Sanchez played in arguably the best team of all time, with the likes of Lionel Messi, Xavi, Iniesta, and David Villa. He stayed at Catalunya for 3 seasons, forming a dangerous partnership with Messi and David Villa. In the 2012-13 season, the trio notched up a combined tally of 82 goals. At Barcelona, he proved his standing amongst the elite, as he scored 47 goals and assisted 35 in 141 appearances. His versatility on the pitch was a joy to watch as he could play anywhere across the front-line. In his final season at the club, Sanchez scored a then career-best 19 goals. His audacious chip in El Clasico is still fondly remembered by Barca fans. In the summer of 2014, as Luis Suarez joined Barcelona, there was no room for Alexis Sanchez . He soon moved to Arsenal to ply his trade and prove his worth.
Arsene knows his men
It is at the Emirates Stadium where Alexis Sanchez had his best footballing days. Sanchez very soon became a hero at Arsenal in his first season, as Arsene Wenger played him in his favourite left-wing spot. In his first season, the Chilean scored 16 goals and set up 8 more in the Premier League. He scored a total of 25 goals in his first season at London, as Arsenal won the FA Cup, where Sanchez scored in the final. He also won Arsenal’s Player of the Year and PFA Fan’s Player of the Year award in 2015. His second season at Arsenal was rather dull with the Chilean managing to get only 17 goals.
Sanchez = FA Cup
But in his third season, Sanchez tore the Premier League apart. He scored 24 league goals and set up 11 more, taking his tally to 36 goals involvements in the Premier League 2016/17 season. The Gooner scored a total of 30 goals that season, becoming the 1st Arsenal player after Robin Van Persie to do so. Arsenal’s season was capped off with their 13th FA Cup triumph as Sanchez was again on the score sheet in the final. Alexis was named as Arsenal’s player of the season in May 2017 as he enjoyed his on-pitch partnership with the mesmerizing Mesut Ozil.
The Decline of Alexis Sanchez
His last season with Arsenal was plagued with injury as Sanchez scored only 8 goals. In January 2018, Manchester United came calling and the Chilean completed his transfer to his “boyhood favorites”. Mourinho gave Alexis the fabled United No.7 shirt, and made him the highest-paid player in the League. This added to the expectation which pressurized the Chilean. His tenure at United has been anything but dismal.
Ever since he joined, he has been a shadow of himself and hasn’t had even one match-winning performance. It seemed as if the pressure of expectations had got the better of him, as he also started getting injuries. Alexis enjoyed a free-role coming from the left for Arsenal, but under Jose Mourinho, that license wasn’t given to Alexis. He had to do more defensive duties than ever which in-turn reduced his chances of creating and scoring goals. His age and injuries didn’t help him, as he couldn’t make the dashes he used to make while at Barcelona or Arsenal.
Back to Italy
With his overwhelming wages and underwhelming performances, United grew impatient with the Chilean and wanted him out. At Manchester United, Alexis has only managed to get 5 goals and 9 assists in 45 games, which is a low return looking at his £390,000-a week salary. His only notable performance in a United shirt came when the noisy neighbors faced the Red Devils. Sanchez came up with a couple of assists as United came back from a 2-0 deficit to win 3-2. At the beginning of this season, United gave him another chance to revive his career as he was shifted out to Inter Milan on-loan for a season.
Proving his mettle
At Inter Milan his season didn’t go as planned in the beginning as he was injured yet again. But with the pandemic, Sanchez is fully fit and ready to prove a point. He has looked sharp since the restart and has shown glimpses of his former self. This might be predominantly because of the system Inter manager, Antonio Conte employs. Inter usually play in a 3-4-3 or a 3-5-2 shape, where Sanchez plays up top and doesn’t have any defensive duties. He has been given the license to create play and score goals, and has lately done well. He scored once and set up a couple of goals in Inter’s last game, against Brescia. It has also been reported that Sanchez is happy in Italy and wants to continue his revamp. Inter are also reportedly interested to get Sanchez on a permanent basis, as United are looking for suitable buyers.
View this post on Instagram
Alexis Sanchez finally seems to have turned a corner and looks to have revamped his career for the Milan club. Only time will tell if the football world will ever get the old Alexis Sanchez back. With his free scoring and tireless running.