He was once the darling of the Emirates and was well on his way to becoming an Arsenal legend. Of course, if you were playing Jeopardy, you know the answer is: who was Alexis Sanchez?
Instead of Sanchez being remembered as one of the best players to wear the red and white he has become a cautionary tale of how an ill-advised move can change the course of someone’s career. It’s been over three years since Sanchez pushed through a move away from north London to join Manchester United and his career has been on a downward trajectory ever since.
Sanchez had originally been lined up to leave Arsenal to join Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City. Once City baulked, United seized the opportunity and gave the Chilean a four-and-a-half-year contract worth £14m a year.
Arsenal fans were left with a bitter taste and felt betrayed by a player they had once adored. The embarrassing introductory video released by the Red Devils featuring Sanchez at the piano made it even more painful to palate.
Alexis Sanchez could have been a legend at Arsenal only for an ill-advised move to Manchester United to ruin that dream and change his career forever
There is still some residual resentment of Sanchez among the Arsenal fanbase. However, this is not a story about revenge. Instead, it’s a tale of how one decision has impacted a once-beloved player’s career trajectory.
After all the hype and expectations, to say that Sanchez flopped at United would be an understatement. Over two seasons, he scored just five goals in 45 appearances. The swap deal with Henrikh Mkhitaryan is widely regarded as one of the greatest failures in transfer history.
So hopeless was his play in Manchester that he was allowed to leave on loan for Inter Milan less than two years later in August 2019.
In a revealing admission on Instagram in 2020, Sanchez explained that he had second thoughts almost immediately after he made the move from Arsenal to Manchester United:
"“After the (first training) session, I got home and asked my family and agent ‘can you not rip up the contract to go back to Arsenal?'”, he said, as relayed by Sky Sports. “They laughed (but) I told them ‘there’s something that doesn’t sit right. It doesn’t seem good’.“But I already signed, I was already there. After the first few months I carried on having the same feeling – we weren’t united as a team in that moment.”"
The fans that had once cheered for Sanchez were satisfied to hear the player admit he had made a mistake.
In Milan, Sanchez appeared in 32 matches for Inter during the 2019/2020 season. He scored only four times. In August 2020, Sanchez made his move to Inter permanent. His tally last season included seven goals and five assists in 38 appearances across all competitions.
Now it appears that Inter has cooled on Sanchez. The Chilean is under contract until June 2023, but his playing time has been limited since the departure of former manager Antonio Conte. Under new boss Simone Inzaghi, Sanchez has played only 70 minutes across four appearances.
It’s been reported that the club is looking to release Sanchez and get his €7m-per-year salary off the books. In an interesting twist, Inter is supposedly considering the possibility of replacing Sanchez with current Arsenal striker Alexandre Lacazette.
During his three and a half years in north London, Sanchez was one of the most exciting players in the Premier League. He scored 80 goals in 166 appearances and at the time was being lauded as the best player to grace the club since Arsenal legend Thierry Henry.
These days Sanchez is remembered as a one-time shining star that quickly lost his luster.