There’s a reason I’m not as worried about Alexis Sanchez leaving at the end of the season as other Arsenal fans.
While I’d be silly to suggest that Alexis isn’t anything other than a superb footballer, the media portray him as one of the best players in the world and I can’t help but disagree.
In February, the Telegraph labeled the Chilean as a player who ‘will be remembered as one of the greatest players in Premier League history’, which sounds like a bit of a stretch considering he hadn’t even been here for three years at the time of writing.
At the end of the season, the same outlet rated him as the sixth-best player in the Premiership and explained how he had ‘carried’ his teammates, who he’s much better than, for most of the season. Although this opinion is certainly more understandable that the previous one.
FIFA 18 has ranked him on par with Sergio Aguero (89) yet, injuries aside, I know which one I’d pick.
Granted, last season Alexis was a key player for Arsenal. He scored 30 goals over all competitions, scored in big games such as the Gunners’ FA Cup semi-final win over Manchester City, and created the most chances from open play (71).
To put this into perspective, Eden Hazard, who won the title with Chelsea, created 66.
Mesut Ozil created 53 but he was sidelined for 27 days through illness and injury.
This is impressive and I don’t want people to think that perhaps I’m going to launch into a tirade about how terrible the 28-year-old is because I’m not. I’m also not criticising him because I know he’s leaving. He IS a fantastic footballer and he WILL be a loss when he inevitably joins up with Pep Guardiola next summer.
However, there’s very little ever said, aside from my Twitter feed of course, about his sloppiness, his stubbornness and selfishness with the ball. People are only starting to pick up on it now because they’re looking for ‘signs’ that he’s unhappy at Arsenal and people are attributing his bizarre style of play at times to him wanting to leave.
But he’s actually played like this ever since he came to Arsenal and it’s gotten worse since around March last season. Perhaps that’s when he decided he wanted to leave north London so there is a link but it’s definitely not a new phenomenon.
Last term, Alexis was the player who made the most misplaced passes in the final third. Not just at Arsenal but the whole Premier League. 239.
That’s an average of 6.3 misplaced passes just in the final third per game.
That’s 57 more than Christian Benteke for Crystal Palace and Watford’s Troy Deeney.
His pass accuracy was also just 73% on average. You’d expect better from a ‘world class’ forward who’s ‘carrying’ Arsenal.
There’s also his attitude. I don’t care how professional everyone keeps insisting he is, he isn’t. He’s either sulking, laughing on the bench or rolling his eyes because he has to stay at Arsenal for one more season where he still picks up a reported £140k-per-week in wages and is surrounded by some of the best football facilities in Europe.
The forward put on a strange display against West Brom on Monday night.
While Arsenal went on to win 2-0 with a poacher’s goal and penalty from Alexandre Lacazette, Alexis just didn’t seem to care. As is the standard state of affairs at the moment.
The Chile international set up the first goal with his free-kick, which Ben Foster saved, and showboated a bit to keep the fans at the Emirates happy but he was dispossessed four times. The most out of all the other players on the pitch.
In the 52nd minute, for example, he decided to do keepie-uppies on the left touchline so Jay Rodriguez, who was key for the Baggies on the night, took the ball off him with ease.
Alexis completed four dribbles but attempted six and had four shots, two of which were on target.
As I’ve already said, Alexis is still an above average footballer. Alexis on a bad day is still better than most. However, he’s not the world-beater people seem to think he is and his attitude has put me off seeing the forward in red and white past this season. I won’t be upset to see him sign for City.