Alexis Sanchez - Player Profile

Has Sanchez Saved His Best For The Finale?

Personal information
Full name: Alexis Alejandro Sanchez
Date of birth: 19 December 1988
Age: 26
Place of birth: Tocopilla, Chile
Height: 1.69 m (5 ft 6 1⁄2 in)
Playing position: Forward / Winger 

Club information
Current team: Arsenal
Number: 17

Youth career
2004–2005: Cobreloa

Senior career
2005–2006: Cobreloa 50 Appearances, 12 goals
2006–2011: Udinese 112 Appearances, 21 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 52 Appearances, 25 goals

National team
2007: Chile U20 12 Appearances, 2 goals
2006– Chile 85 Appearances, 27 goals

Hosts Chile reached their first Copa America final in 28 years after seeing off the 10 men of Peru in a thrilling encounter in Santiago. Before the semi-final started, if you were making a list of London-based Chilean forwards who might score twice to send their team through to the final, Alexis Sanchez would be the only name on it. But Queens Park Rangers loanee Eduardo Vargas upstaged the Gunner, scoring either side of Medel's own goal, to ease the tension inside Chile's national stadium. His performance in their 2-1 win over bitter rivals Peru was a far cry from the bombastic Sanchez displays we saw in the first three games, where it seemed he was going to take this tournament by the scruff of its neck. Although he did hit the bar twice last time out, Sanchez has to be more lethal if his team are to be crowned the champions of South America.

After a brutal quarter-final clash, which Chile scraped through thanks to two red cards for Uruguay, Sanchez said one of the opposition approached him after the game to apologise for repeatedly kicking him. 'I told him "you could have hurt me and football isn't like this", he explained. But unfortunately for him, it is. That's how every team has tried to deal with his former Barcelona team-mate Lionel Messi at this tournament and what Sanchez must cope with if he is to lead this side to Copa America glory. Claudio Bravo may be the captain, and Arturo Vidal the engine, but the Arsenal forward is the figurehead; the firepower, the big gun. Without him firing on all cylinders, Chile will find it tough to end their long wait to lift this trophy, whether they are facing Argentina or Paraguay in the final. Chile have the best part of a week to recover ahead of the much anticipated finale, and Sanchez looks like he needs it.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger says the star will have a four-week holiday after the Copa America finishes on Saturday, which means it's unlikely he'll be match-fit at the start of the season. Wenger claimed the Chile star was in the 'red zone' back in December and at that stage of the season he had played more minutes than any other Premier League outfield player, across all competitions. He ended up featuring in 52 games and scoring 25 goals. Only elimination from the Champions League gave him the chance to rest, but he was the key figure in a side which won the FA Cup and finished third in the league. After a good start to this tournament the going has got tough for Sanchez. He didn't score on the opening day against Ecuador, but put in a dazzling display, benefitting from the time off after the end of the season. He followed it up against Mexico in the second game, again failing to find the net but playing key roles in most of Chile's attacks as they drew 3-3 in what was the game of the tournament to date. And against Bolivia he finally got on the scoresheet, starting and ending a brutal attack with a wonderful diving header to reach Jorge Valdivia's low cross. But in both the Uruguay game and Peru’s clash, Sanchez's performance levels have dipped drastically. 'Alexisssss', chanted the fans lovingly, of their idol. But it was reward for past glories, not an endorsement of this performance.

After the Uruguay game, in which he was surprisingly awarded man of the match, he admitted that his performance had not been good enough, saying his team-mates asked him during the game what was wrong. Questions will be asked again after this, but out of love, not anger. At full-time, Vidal blasted the ball into the fans, kissed his hands and raised them towards the sky. Sanchez put his hands on his hips and looked towards the ground. Body language can't explain everything but it was clear he was not happy with his contribution to this victory. With five days until he takes to this field again, for the final, Alexis has time to rest, recover, recharge and rediscover his best form. The hopes of a nation rest on his shoulders – he must be ready.