Not that long ago you could hardly move without bumping into an article about Alexis Sanchez but over recent months things have been very quiet, so how is he getting on?
Now 32, Alexis Sanchez is coming to the end of a career which peaked in his time at Arsenal during the 16/17 season when, paired with Mesut Ozil, he scored 30 goals and grabbed 18 assists (Mesut Ozil got 12 goals and 14 assists that season).
A desire to team up with Pep Guardiola, paired with Manchester City’s insistence on playing games in their move for the Chilean striker meant Alexis ended up playing out half a miserable season stuck at Arsenal, before moving to Manchester United. It was a period from which he doesn’t really seem to have recovered,
Or, perhaps, he merely returned to form. His stellar 16/17 season at Arsenal was a career outlier. Forwards who regularly score 20+ goals a season are few and far between. Those that do tend to be at clubs like Bayern Munich, Manchester City, Real Madrid and Barcelona. Alexis had already been at Barcelona and they had deemed him not good enough.
Before his 16/17 season tally of 24 league goals, his highest total in a campaign was 19 (Barcelona 13/14). Then 16 (Arsenal 14/15), 13 (Arsenal 15/16), and 12 (Barcelona 11/12, Udinese 10/11). That’s seven seasons Alexis achieved double figures for league goals but only three were above 15 and just one above 20.
It was likely something he knew himself because speaking in September last year, Alexis revealed he wanted to return to Arsenal before the ink was even dry on his £500kpw contract at Manchester United.
“I want to tell you about my period at United, about many things that were said and that made me look bad,” said Sánchez. “I got the opportunity to go to United and it seemed tempting to me. It was something nice for me, because, when I was a kid, I liked that club a lot.
“I ended up signing without much information about what was happening in the move. The first days that I was with my colleagues, sometimes there are things that you do not realise until you arrive.
“The first training I had I realised many things. I came home and I told my representative: ‘Can’t the contract be terminated to return to Arsenal?’ They start laughing and I told them that something did not sit right with me. It [the contract] had already been signed.”
When he left Arsenal in January 2018, I wondered if Arsenal had managed to get the best out of an ageing player who had never really had a proper break from playing nor yet suffered any consequences for that. For a player whose game is based on speed and the ability to move his body quickly, he was never going to be a fine wine that got better with age.
Just two months after his move I spoke about how his problems at United were unlikely to get better.
As he left for United, many of their fans thought we were just being bitter as we highlighted the numerous problems with Alexis Sanchez’s game and attitude. Sure, he’s a brilliant player when it’s going his way, but he is not a team player and was one of the most wasteful ‘top’ players in the game.
Chile failing to make the World Cup in Russia seemed to hit him particularly hard and it certainly had an affect on him the following season. But when it looked like he was on his way out the door, I pondered if the club buying him would get value for money with his signing.
They did not.
Alexis’s time at United saw him hit the back of the net just five times and assist only nine. After 45 games for the Old Trafford outfit, he was off to Inter Milan on loan. 19 months had passed since he left London.
He has hardly fared much better in Italy, even though his deal is now a permanent one.
69 games have returned just 11 goals and 17 assists, seven and six of those coming this season. Of his 37 appearances, only 16 have come as a starter as he averages around 41 minutes per match.
He did, however, win Serie A this season, Inter 10 points clear of Atalanta as they go into the final round of matches.
Alexis’ contract with Inter Milan still has another two years left to run.
Update 21/6/21 Alexis is currently sidelined with a calf problem. After featuring in Chile’s World Cup qualification games against Argentina (against whom he scored) and Bolivia, he then missed the return fixtures against the same sides.