Alexis Sanchez: Player Profile

Arsenal’s New Golden Boy

Personal information 
Full name: Alexis Alejandro Sanchez
Date of birth: 19 December 1988
Age: 25
Place of birth: Tocopilla, Chile
Height: 1.69 m (5 ft 7 in)
Playing position: Forward / Winger

Club information 
Current club: Arsenal
Number: 17

Youth career 
2004–2005 Cobreloa
Senior career
2005–2006 Cobreloa 50 Appearances, 12 goals
2006–2011 Udinese 112 Appearances, 121 goals
2006–2007 → Colo-Colo (loan) 48 Appearances, 9 goals
2007–2008 → River Plate (loan) 31 Appearances, 4 goals
2011–2014 Barcelona 141 Appearances, 47 goals
2014– Arsenal 2 Appearances, 0 goals
National team
2007 Chile U20 12 Appearances, 2 goals

2006– Chile 71 Appearances, 24 goals

Arsenal have signed four players this summer, but none was bigger or generated more hype than the first: Alexis Sanchez. 

The Chilean has shone for years for his country and Barcelona, where he first became world famous. Now he'll get to showcase his talents at a club where he is one of the biggest players. 

It is often difficult to predict how foreign players from different leagues will fare during their first seasons in the Premier League, even if they are objectively excellent. 

Premier League defenders might be bigger and more physical, on average, than those in La Liga, but Sanchez can link up with his teammates so well that he compensates for lack of grit with guile. 

While Sanchez absolutely has the talent to thrive in England, he will probably be surprised, as many are, by just how tough it is to thrive in the most demanding league on earth. 

Mesut Ozil and many others have gone through the process of hardening up and playing more quickly in a more difficult league for a team that depends on them more than their previous one did. 

It is nothing new and nothing to be frightened about when he first starts playing. However, Sanchez is good enough to cope and adapt and Arsenal fans will be hoping he can blend in just as well as Santi Carzola did when he arrived on the scene. 

Alexis joins Arsenal off the back of what was probably the best season of his career. He broke the 20-goal barrier for the first time in all competitions, netting 19 in La Liga and laying on a further 10 assists. 

He would seem to be a perfect fit for Arsenal, too, giving them the pace they have lacked in attack with Olivier Giroud as the lone striker and Theo Walcott absent through injury. 

Ozil, too often surrounded by a collection of playmakers rather than forwards capable of making the most of his service, must be just as pleased as the supporters. As either a centre forward or winger, he offers a much more dynamic and faster option in attack than his new teammates. 

While he only averaged around 1.3 successful dribbles per 90 minutes at Barcelona the past three seasons, those numbers were deflated by Barcelona’s playing style and Sanchez’s responsibility to defer his creative freedom to Leo Messi. 

One need only look back at his time with Udinese to see his true potential as a dribbler. In 2009-2010, he averaged 2.74 successful dribbles per 90 minutes – only to be outdone by his performance the following season during which he averaged an astonishing 3.5 successful dribbles per 90 (both rates placed him in the top five percentile of all players in Europe’s top five leagues). 

He’s maintained an absurd goal conversion rate throughout his career converting over 25% of his chances for all three of his seasons spent at Barcelona. His suitability for a possession-based attack was also validated during his successful stint at Camp Nou. 

It’s not often you would hear both ‘power’ and ‘creativity’ to describe a footballer – often powerful players and creative players are very different beasts. But Alexis is a true all-round attacking threat. The Chileans’ adaptability owes much to the fact he’s played different roles in different types of sides at a young age. 

He impressed at World Cup 2010 as tricky winger in a very direct Chile side which pressed high up the pitch, but the following season he was voted Serie A’s best player in an entirely different role. His Udinese team played on the counter-attack, and Sanchez was a No 10 playing behind Antonio Di Natale, powering through the centre of the pitch. 

Then came his transfer to Barcelona. Now, Alexis was again a different player, forced to adapt to a side based around Lionel Messi, told to start wide and make runs in behind the opposition defence - and sometimes used as a No 9. 

Alexis was often a great attacking threat, but it always felt as if his game was restricted. Though world class, Sanchez was forced to support the club's bigger names and compelled to tiki-taka his way around the pitch, as is the Barca way. 

Arsenal will allow him to unleash his full range of skills for the first time since he first made a name for himself at Udinese. 

He will now be able to use his speed and lightning quickness to get behind defenders on the counterattack and he will be one of the linchpins of the team. As Sanchez showed for Chile in the World Cup, he is capable of slicing through defenses by himself if given the freedom to do so. 

Wenger has been a master of changing a player’s role upon their arrival at Arsenal - think how Thiery Henry and Robin van Persie were converted into world class centre-forwards, so he’ll be delighted by Alexis' all-round skill set. 

With his pace and his defensive skill set, Alexis Sanchez will prove to be a valuable addition for Arsenal in the coming season – giving Wenger’s side a much more tactically cohesive unit than in previous seasons.