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Where has it all gone wrong for Alexis Sanchez at Manchester United?

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Alexis Sanchez

Can Alexis Sanchez rediscover his best form at Manchester United?

It sounds obscene to say, but being injured until the new year could well be the best thing for Alexis Sanchez.

The Chilean international has struggled ever since moving to Manchester United in January, struggling to show the same sharpness and enthusiasm which once made him a favourite at Arsenal.

When signed, it seemed as if he was perfect for a Jose Mourinho team. A hard-working winger that would put the graft in whilst having the quality to go with it, being a very different type of player to both Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial. It seemed a perfect match, yet it has proved to be a nightmare year on the field for him.

Now 29, Sanchez should be in the prime of his career, yet is instead in the midst of what has probably been his worst stretch of form since moving to the Premier League in 2014. There were signs of it coming in his final few months at Arsenal, although it was then disregarded as him having his head turned.

Manchester City appeared to be his most likely destination and perhaps a move to the Etihad playing under Pep Guardiola could’ve worked out better for him. Instead, he is on the red side of Manchester and things haven’t gone to plan.

Alexis Sanchez Paul Pogba Manchester United

Value for Money

Sanchez is reportedly earning £350,000-per-week at Old Trafford, which given his current output on the pitch was certainly another questionable decision made by Ed Woodward. United fans were impatient long before Sanchez arrived at the club and underperforming high earners will only help to further their frustrations.

Right from the word go it’s been difficult for him and this season’s performances don’t indicate that it’s going to get any better. It’s telling that the majority of Arsenal fans will feel they got the better end of the deal, which certainly doesn’t say much given the inconsistent form of Henrikh Mkhitaryan at the Emirates Stadium.

In total, he has bagged just three goals in 22 Premier League appearances in 2018 for United, scoring a total of four times in 30 games in all competitions. The season before joining, he bagged 30 goals in 51 games for Arsenal in 2016/17, but continues to look a shadow of that player.

There has been a real lack of dynamism in his play, often lacking the imagination and elusiveness that was present during his days with the Gunners. Some may argue that can be attested to the manager that he is currently playing for, but a player with Sanchez’s level of ability has no excuse to not be doing more than he currently is.

Alexis Sanchez Manchester United

Battle against attrition

His aforementioned injury means he will miss Wednesday night’s clash against his former side and that could well be the best thing for him right now. A break both physically and mentally where he remains out of the spotlight may benefit Sanchez.

Turning 30 later on this month, it’s worth noting that Sanchez is an old 29-year-old in footballing terms, having put a lot of miles on the clock across his career. He made his professional debut at the age of 16 in his native Chile for Cobreloa and had already played 129 senior games in South America before coming to Europe in 2008 with Udinese.

There he played 112 times in just three seasons, before going on to make 141 appearances in three years with Barcelona. Since playing for Barcelona, he has played 40+ games in all competitions in each of the last eight campaigns before this. That’s also without including the 124 caps he has earned for Chile since 2006.

Between 2014-2017 Sanchez didn’t have one extended break from football, representing his country in World Cups, Copa Americas and Confederations Cups in various summers, often going reaching the latter stages of those competitions, too.

With all of the factors combined, the long-term prospects for Sanchez at Old Trafford don’t look particularly promising. United fans have seen themselves recently what starting early can do to a player when they reach their 30s with Wayne Rooney, who quickly found himself on the periphery of the team.

Sanchez will be out of the spotlight on Wednesday night and that could become a familiar feeling. Time may well be finally catching up on him.