Alexis Sachez insists he wants to win titles for Arsenal. [Picture: Getty]
The season is beginning to take shape as domestic title favourites begin to emerge while Europe’s elite are rising to the top of their respective Champions League groups. It’s also that time of year the rumour mill goes into overdrive – but one rumour that seems just as ridiculous as Chelsea’s recent form is the report of Alexis Sanchez leaving Arsenal to join Manchester United.
On the face of it, it seems absurd. Why would the striker want to join Manchester United in their current situation? United may have a healthy league position but their style of play is that of the “anti-Sanchez” – they lack the freedom, creativity and pace that he excels in and it’s difficult seeing a meeting with Louis Van Gaal changing the Chileans mind.
Alexis Sanchez joined Arsenal during the summer of 2014 and made a seamless transition from La Liga to the Premier League. His directness, power and pace meant he didn’t need much time to acclimatise to the hustle and bustle of English football.
His main attributes dovetailed perfectly with the rest of his North London team-mates and he scooped up a number of individual awards at the end of his first season in England. Sanchez was named the PFA Fans Player of the Year and the Arsenal Player of the Year – as well as scoring in the final of the 4-0 FA Cup romp over Villa.
But the player craves more than a domestic cup to remain satisfied – playing in Barcelona for three years while they were at the peak of their powers can spoil a man when it comes to silverware.
So Arsenal’s abject performances in the Champions League this season would have left the 26 year-old Chilean wondering if the North London club have a squad capable of getting out of the group let alone reaching the business end.
Meanwhile, Arsenal have displayed their Jekyll and Hyde tendencies in the Premier League and were lucky to avoid defeat in the recent North London derby at the Emirates. A late Kieran Gibbs goal salvaged a 1-1 draw and Wenger was more than happy to take a point after being dominated by Spurs in long spells of the game.
All of these factors will have surely been chipping away at Sanchez since the beginning of the season. And this has been echoed by some of the former greats at Highbury – Ian Wright was straight to the point after the embarrassing home defeat to Olympiakos
“Normally we get knocked out in the quarter finals or before. This time we have a massive hill to climb just to get into the last 16,” he told The Telegraph “If we’re going out at this stage then people like Alexis Sanchez are going to start looking over their shoulder. How will you keep hold of him?”
And this point won’t have been missed by the top sides on the continent.
Bayern Munich, Paris SG, Juventus and Manchester City have the funds, quality and ambition that could match that of Alexis Sanchez. It would, however, be a surprise to see the Chilean attacker in the shirt of Manchester United next season.
Although you would expect Arsene Wenger and the board will be eager to sign up Sanchez to a renewed contract as soon as possible to ward off any interest.
The next six weeks, though, will be crucial for Alexis Sanchez and Arsenal football club. They face two crunch Champions League games against Dinamo Zagreb and Olympiakos, while they have a nice run of winnable fixtures domestically – the only tough one, on paper at least, is at home against Manchester City.
Emerge through these unscathed and the landscape could look very different. Knockout Champions League football and sitting on top of the Premier League might well persuade Alexis Sanchez he is in the right place after all.
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