Chile’s manager, Reinaldo Rueda, has revealed he believes Alexis Sanchez’s problems at Manchester United are because he lacks an ’emotional bond’ with his teammates.
The former Arsenal striker has scored as many goals for his country in this year’s Copa America (2 plus an assist) in two games as he managed in 27 games across all competitions for United last season.
It’s no secret that Alexis has struggled since his move from Arsenal in January 2018. A striker on fire until he went into a huff over not being allowed to move to Manchester City (and missing out on the World Cup), he has never been able to recapture the form that saw him score 30 goals, with 18 assists in 51 games for Arsenal in his last full season.
“It’s not easy to explain, but Alexis has come here and shown a lot of commitment and perhaps in Manchester, he does not have the emotional bond he has with his teammates here, that affection,” Rueda told a news conference.
“He’s had bad fortune because Manchester United have had problems for a while, so he does not have the structure he has here.
“He has also had injuries, he’s lacked consistency, he has lacked continuity.
“We have done brilliant work with him, we have given him a lot of warmth, which is what he needs. He has a special connection with the team and the group is very fond of him,” added Rueda.
“He can recover because he is a natural born goalscorer but he has been anxious after the injuries, he looks after himself well and luckily has been able to rediscover his form.”
However, if United fans are hoping a great tournament will see him return to Old Trafford ready to finally justify his obscene wage then they might be disappointed. Alexis turned his ankle on Saturday, aggravating an old injury against Ecuador.
“I think I have a sprain, I hope it’s not too serious. At half-time they strapped it up, I played on with a bit of pain,” Alexis said.
At the time of writing, Alexis has more goals (7 plus 6 assists) in the Copa America as a whole (18 games) than he has for United in total (45 games, 5 goals, 4 assists).
Back in May, reports emerged claiming that the United players had turned on Alexis, stories that bore a striking resemblance to rumours that came out of Arsenal.
I don’t know Mitten but I’d no reason to doubt him when he wrote, “The players, who were recruited by three different managers and who have been asked to play four different types of football, are blaming each other for their imminent wage decrease. And none causes so much frustration, disappointment and anger as Alexis Sanchez, the best-paid footballer in the world’s richest league.”
Raphael Honigstein said the same about Alexis when he was at Arsenal.
Speaking on the Totally Football podcast in March 2018, the journalist had this to say:
“It’s become a bit of a joke, I think, to laugh at Arsenal because they made noises saying ‘finally we got rid of Alexis Sanchez’ and then look at what’s happened to them but I think it’s been under-reported just how badly the whole Arsenal dressing room hated Alexis Sanchez.
“They really felt that he was just playing up to camera doing all these things like ‘Oh I’m trying but no-one else is! What am I doing here?!’
“And then, quite tellingly, Wenger, he talked about this last year if you go back.
“They put up stats inside the dressing room after every game showing the amount of kilometres run, the passing and Sanchez would regularly come out with the lowest mileage by a big distance and the players would just go absolutely bananas at him playing to the camera and making all these moves like ‘Oh, they’re just not worthy of me! What am I doing here?!’
“So they really wanted to get rid of him.
“Whether they have improved as a team is a different story but I think it is a happier dressing room no doubt.”
Reports emerged as early as August 2017 that Arsenal players had a problem with Alexis. Back then a report in the Telegraph claimed that the Arsenal squad were so fed-up with Alexis’ antics that they want him sold.
That was followed up in September by Bob Wilson claiming the players had wanted the Chilean forward to be sold in the summer.
Then Rory Smith piled on two weeks later, the New York Times journalist telling Radio Five Live, “I think Alexis Sanchez is not always helpful in terms of chastising his team-mates.”
December saw the S*n quote an “Emirates source” claiming some of the players were upset with the way Alexis was acting, claiming he was harming the atmosphere in training because he wanted to leave.