The trouble with Alexis Sanchez
The highly-anticipated transfer of Alexis Sanchez from Arsenal isn't as straightforward as it seems
It seems like this transfer window will finally see Alexis Sanchez depart Arsenal for a rival team. It has, in truth, been a matter of when and not if. The two Manchester clubs appear to be the interested parties, and both represent intriguing but differing paths for the Chilean to take: it’s debatable whether United or City is the best fit for him.
For Sanchez has always been an individual, more than a team player. Consider the times he’s put in his best work: first coming to European attention in Serie A with Udinese, he thrived in the 2010/2011 season as their star player.
For his national team, Chile, Sanchez’s flair and spark brought 2 Copa America titles in successive years (2015 and 2016); and at Arsenal, only Mesut Ozil could claim to rival the striker in terms of importance to their team, but Sanchez essentially carried Arsenal in the 2016/2017 campaign, leading in terms of both, goals and assists.
This argument is given credence by remembering his spell at Barcelona. While not a complete failure (there was that fine chip of Iker Casillas to win an El Clasico, and a La Liga title in 2012/2013), Sanchez never reached his greatest level, not being the main man for once, given the presence of the majestic and incomparable Lionel Messi alongside him in the attacking three.
His confidence seemed to suffer playing a supporting role, and the move to Arsenal seemingly liberated him, allowing him to express himself to the fullest.
It’s perhaps not easy being an individualistic type of player in this era where tactics dominate and players are expected to work for the team first. Players like Cristiano Ronaldo and Sanchez seemingly lack the necessary discipline, to adhere to such structure.
It’s curious, then, that Pep Guardiola and Manchester City still appear to be interested in acquiring his signature. When they pursued the player last season and during the summer, the transfer made more sense. Now, however, it is difficult to determine where exactly Sanchez fits in.
Manchester City don't really need him, do they?
Manchester City can now arguably boast the strongest and most effective wingers since David Beckham and Ryan Giggs’s glory days with Manchester United in the late 1990s. With right-footed Raheem Sterling, and left-footed Leroy Sane, playing on their respectively better side of the pitch, there’s an undeniably incredible balance to Guardiola’s side.
Assisted by the extraordinary pair of Kevin de Bruyne and David Silva behind them, the pairing has immensely increased their goals and assists tally since last season.
Alexis Sanchez prefers to occupy the left side of a front three - which is currently Leroy Sane’s position, and his tendency to cut in onto his right foot, looking for shooting space seems to not be in accordance with the way Guardiola has his side playing.
Each player in an attacking position boasts fantastic numbers, but it’s always at the service of the team, and a result of their intricate passing play and flexible running.
Sanchez, in style, is almost similar to Sergio Aguero - another talented, but individualistic player, and it's telling that Aguero seems to be the player that Guardiola least values out of all his attacking options (the young Brazilian Gabriel Jesus is one of the most tactically disciplined forwards in Europe and hassles defences on a regular basis)
Aguero still makes the City side due to his reputation with the fans and his continued excellence in front of goal. However, having two such players in this tactical system seems unwise.
Why Manchester United isn't the best destination either
Given this, then, Manchester United - a club just across the city, seems the likeliest destination, but Jose Mourinho isn’t a manager known for his love of flair players. Juan Mata, Chelsea’s best player at the time, was unfairly tossed aside in 2014 as Mourinho felt he lacked the discipline to play in his cautious system.
Multiple times this season, attacking players like the exuberant Marcus Rashford and tricky Henrikh Mkhitaryan have found themselves shackled by the dour Portuguese as he set his side out to defend first and defend only. It’s only fair to assume that he will, unfortunately, use Sanchez in the same way,
This is all without mentioning the player’s poor performances for Arsenal in the first half of this season - a fact that most people seem to be forgetting in all the transfer debate.
Compared to last season, his goals and assists tallies are down, with only 8 goals to show from 21 appearances, in all competitions. He has been disrupted slightly by injury, and there's no denying it, but this is a player woefully out of form, and his influence over games has visibly been far reduced.
A better destination for him would, perhaps, be the Serie A, to a side like AC Milan, who are in dire need of a superstar attacker to transform their flailing, but talented side.
Both parties could find their respective reputations enhanced if such a move worked out (and Arsenal could certainly do with not letting another of their best players leave for either Manchester side).
At 29, Sanchez probably only has 2 or 3, or 4 years at best, at the top level. Thus, where he chooses to play next will undoubtedly be vital to his career, and he’d be wise to be cautious in his decision.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect Sportskeeda's opinion on the matter