Arsene Wenger believes that Alexis Sanchez is struggling with his confidence since his move to Manchester United in January.
Alexis has scored only 4 goals in 28 games since he left Arsenal in January and has looked like a shadow of the player who ripped up the Premier League for the Gunners.
If there’s one person who is well-placed to speak on the Alexis we knew at Arsenal v the Alexis we now watch at Manchester United, then it’s Arsene Wenger, and he believes that confidence is the main problem for the Chilean, but that Jose Mourinho might be about to see more from him.
“It is the question that he has raised with his performances,” Wenger said on BeIN Sport. “I believe he has lost confidence.
“The strength of Alexis Sanchez is to take initiative, to dribble, to take people on.
“These kind of players are most vulnerable when they have no confidence anymore because their game is based on confidence and feeling free to take initiative.
“He has lost that slowly, even with the interruption of the season, since the start of the season he looks like he had a high level of energy that he has lost as well.
“Certainly, he is refreshed now because Mourinho left him out for a while and he has a good opportunity to get back to where he belongs, as a top player.”
If you’re an Arsenal fan who delights in schadenfreude then Alexis Sanchez’s move to Manchester United tastes very sweet indeed. Of course, schadenfreude requires misfortune to delight in and how much of that there is when Alexis landed such a mega contract is debatable. Given how much we all know he loves to play, however, I doubt the money helps all that much beyond a certain point.
There’s no denying that Alexis has struggled since leaving Arsenal. Last season, he endured his worst season since arriving in the Premier League in 2014 and his worst overall since he was just 21. 9 goals and 6 assists in 31 Premier League games is a remarkable drop from his stats the season before which saw him score 24 and assist 11 in 38.
Turning 30 in next month, it’s hard to see how Alexis can be better than he was with Arsenal although, at this point, I’m sure most United fans would accept him simply being better than he is right now. He has just one goal and two assists to his name this season from 10 games.
But that might never happen.
There is a long history of players moving from Arsenal 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, had the talent of Alexis.
What then of Cesc Fabregas? Sure, he won some trophies but at the cost of his Arsenal legacy and life as a player no longer loved by any set of fans. Emmanuel Adebayor, Samir Nasri, and Lassana 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 has never been in that bracket.
His 30-goal season for Arsenal was the best he’s ever had as a professional. Last 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.
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.
Manchester United and their fans will hope they can still see the best of Alexis Sanchez but his past performances don’t hint at a player just waiting to burst out with 20 goals a season for the next three-and-a-bit years:
The biggest fear Arsenal fans had 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.
As for Arsenal, I can’t imagine for a second that they want to take him back but I have no problem at all believing Alexis regrets his choice.