If you’re an Arsenal fan who delights in schadenfreude then Alexis Sanchez’s move to Manchester United must taste very sweet indeed.
Not only is Alexis failing to fire at all, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, who travelled the other way, has hit the ground running and has already scored or created eight in 10 games for Arsenal.
Of course, schadenfreude requires misfortune to delight in and how much of that there is when Alexis landed a contract worth £600k-per-week, guaranteed for four-and-a-half years, is debatable.
This article was written before Alexis's latest comments
There’s no denying that Alexis has struggled since leaving Arsenal and while it’s still very early days in his United career, he has now endured what could be described as his worst season since arriving in the Premier League in 2014 and his worst overall since he was just 21.
Eight goals and three assists in 25 Premier League games is a remarkable drop from his stats last season which saw him score 24 and assist 11 in 38.
Turning 30 in the middle of next season, it’s hard to see how Alexis can get better than he was last season although at this point I’m sure most United fans would accept him simply being better.
But that might never happen.
There is a long history of players moving from Arsenal looking for greener pastures only to find themselves waist-deep in shit.
Thomas Vermaelen couldn’t resist the call of Barcelona in 2014. Similarly, Alex Song, and Alex Hleb. None of those players, however, could be said to have the talent of Alexis.
What then of Cesc Fabregas? Sure, he won some trophies but at the cost of his Arsenal legacy and a life as a player no longer loved by any set of fans. Emmanuel Adebayor, Samir Nasri, and Lasana Diarra are another few that spring to mind, but it is a long list.
Similarly, Robin van Persie, who is perhaps the closest Alexis example. He left Arsenal when he finally hit his peak, enjoyed one good season with United and then faded to nothing.
As I’ve mentioned before in other posts on here, including before Alexis moved, players who score more than 20 goals regularly are a very rare commodity and Alexis Sanchez has never been in that bracket.
His 30-goal season last time out was the best season he’s ever had as a professional. This season he should have built on that.
Instead, he spent half of it sulking about not being allowed to move to Manchester City and not making the World Cup. He switched off at Arsenal and hasn’t been able to restart himself at United.
Dropped for the FA Cup game against Brighton, Alexis is a player who wants to play every minute. Like a toddler having a tantrum, coaches have spoken about the frustration Alexis feels when he’s not playing. Given his current form, frustration is unlikely to do anything to help him or United.
United are now said to be fearful that Alexis will turn into another Angel Di Maria and it’s not hard to see why. Alexis has managed just five shots in his last six games (in total, not per game) with only two of those on target.
In total since leaving Arsenal he has managed 16 shots in 10 games with only seven on target. Take out the Huddersfield stats, where he managed six shots with three on target, and the Chilean has 10 shots in nine games with just four on target.
That’s an appalling return for a player of his calibre. To put it in perspective, in the 2-2 draw with Chelsea in the Premier League just before he left Arsenal, he managed four shots in that game alone. In the game before that, against West Brom, he managed six.
Manchester United and their fans will be hopeful that they will see the best of Alexis Sanchez next season but his past performances are no guarantee of anything and even those don’t hint at a player who is just waiting to burst out with 20 goals a season for the next four years
The biggest fear Arsenal fans has was that Alexis would go to United and do what Robin van Persie did. But they shouldn’t have worried. That outcome was always more unlikely than the Chilean having a relatively ordinary season punctuated with a sprinkling of magic moments.
At the minute, however, you get the feeling that United fans would take even that.