The fall of Alexis Sanchez

Premier League 2018/19 Tactical Analysis: Alexis Sanchez at Man United

A second-to-none work rate combined with the touch of a maestro. Once upon a time, Alexis Sanchez was possibly one of the most dangerous players in the world. His physical attributes that complimented his brilliant technical ability turned the Chilean into a modern-day Carlos Tevez. His talent proved to be a valuable asset for Barcelona, but it was a move to the Premier League that allowed Sanchez to shine even brighter.

After learning from the likes of Lionel Messi and Andres Iniesta, Alexis Sanchez was ready to become the main man at Arsenal. The key player at The Emirates brought Arsenal extremely close to regaining the PL title. The individual leader that achieved great success at Barca and Arsenal seems light years away from the player he is today.

His time in Spain saw him surrounded by world-class players. Moving to London meant Sanchez needed to create new relationships on and off the pitch. Mesut Özil’s vision and passing ability allowed Sanchez to do what he did best. Their partnership instilled fear into every defender in England.

The only thing missing from his time at Arsenal was trophies. As the years went on, there was no indication that the rest of the Arsenal squad would reach the levels of Sanchez. Like many players past and present, Sanchez found himself not being tied down to the Gunners. Seeing no light at the end of the tunnel, Alexis Sanchez decided that it was time to make a change.

He expressed his desire to leave Arsenal the same way Robin Van Persie did. The club he wanted to bring success to was not putting in as much effort as he was. He wanted to become a winner, in particular, a Premier League winner.

Given his ability, it was no surprise he was able to have his pick of a couple of English giants. Both sides of Manchester approached Sanchez in the hope to add a superstar to their teams. Pep Guardiola or José Mourinho? That was the real decision he had to make. Whether it was based on personality, trophies or the current state of the club…Sanchez knew where he wanted to play.

In the 2018 January transfer window, it was announced that there would be a new number 7 at Old Trafford. A swap deal saw Henrikh Mkhitaryan depart Man Utd and Alexis Sanchez arrive.

Where it all went wrong

In a perfect world, Alexis Sanchez would have hit the ground running and smoothly adapted to Mourinho’s style of play. Unfortunately, the remainder of the 2017-18 season for Sanchez was overshadowed by unexpected injuries. Not everyone can achieve their ideal start, but Sanchez had the entire pre-season to prepare for the year ahead.

A Manchester United side that had been updated with young fresh players saw a lack of experience at the club. This was the picture-perfect scenario for Sanchez to cement himself as the leader in the dressing room. And it goes without saying, he was given his fair share of chances.

Oddly enough, the Chilean was unable to properly break into the regular starting eleven. Youngsters such as Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Romelu Lukaku were all preferred over the former Arsenal man. It was commonly thought that if Sanchez found himself at one of the Manchester clubs, he would help elevate that side to success. Forget success, Sanchez was barely able to elevate himself onto the bench.

His induvial performances were not the only thing to rot his relationship with Manchester United. José Mourinho decided to kick Sanchez while he was down. Openly suggesting that he regretted recruiting the Chilean was all that was needed by Mourinho to emphasise his feelings. Sanchez’s inability to flourish at Man Utd is largely due to the fact he was unable to make strong connections with the players, coaching staff and the manager.

He was anticipated to be the standout player, instead, he was performing at reserve standard. He is not the first blockbuster transfer that did not meet expectations. And as long as Mourinho was his manager, nothing would improve.

With Ole Gunnar Solskjaer taking over at Old Trafford, the 2019-20 season may be Sanchez’s last opportunity to show he is still world class. He has had success everywhere has played so it is possible that Mourinho is to blame. Alexis Sanchez may not be a massive character off the pitch, but he must become a figure similar to Zlatan Ibrahimović on the pitch.

Partnerships in the squad may also be a key factor. A duo between Sanchez and Paul Pogba could be what is needed to jumpstart the entire side into another gear. One thing we will find out with Solskjaer in charge is what the problem really is. It was either Mourinho or it is Manchester United.