Alexis Sanchez's Arsenal legacy unfairly tainted by his quest for glory
Arsene Wenger has all but confirmed Alexis Sanchez’s exit from Arsenal this January following a year long pursuit from Manchester City. Pep Guardiola saw a £60m deal fall through on deadline day in September, and their bitter rivals Manchester United have now leapfrogged City, appearing likeliest to seal a deal this month.
While Sanchez is almost certain to relocate to Manchester sooner or later, the Gunners will be left with a huge void left by his imminent exit. Rumours of moves for Bordeaux trickster Malcom and Borussia Dortmund badboy Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang have emerged and it is thought that the Chilean will not be allowed to move until a new capture is complete.
When Alexis Sanchez arrived on the back of the 2014 World Cup, many felt Arsenal had sealed a tremendous coup. Sanchez’s role at Barcelona had blossomed from a bit-part player with huge ability to one of the stars of the show, featuring more regularly than Lionel Messi, Neymar and Pedro under Gerardo Martino. Only the pending £75m arrival of Luis Suarez by a club desperate to propel their way back to the very top had forced the Chilean to consider a move.
While a lack of investment and ambition has seen the Gunners worsen overall since 2014, Alexis has sustained a record just short of a goal every two games in all competitions. In crucial Wembley fixtures against Reading, Aston Villa, Manchester City and Chelsea, he has almost singlehandedly dragged the Gunners to glory with hugely prominent displays and decisive goals.
Following three and a half seasons of service in London, what legacy will the Chilean leave behind? Gunners fans certainly aren’t short of club icons to look back on. Ian Wright, David Seaman, Tony Adams, Dennis Bergkamp, Patrick Vieira and Thierry Henry immediately spring to mind when considering legends in recent history. In spite of two club Player of the Season awards, two FA cup successes and one inclusion in the PFA Team of the Year, few will consider him in the same breath as the aforementioned group. Realistically, his individual displays and influence have helped Arsene Wenger’s side punch above their weight over the years.
His personal record of 24 league strikes last term saw his side somehow fall short of a fourth-place league finish for the first time in 21 seasons. Of the 75 points Arsenal accrued over the campaign, his contribution of goals and assists earned a total of 50 points. Insult to injury surely came when the Chilean was left out of the PFA Team of the Year behind Sadio Mane, Eden Hazard and Dele Alli, regardless of his superior goal tally.
Despite leading his nation to back-to-back Copa America successes in the summers of 2015 and 2016 and earning just one short-term holiday in three and a half years, Sanchez has been consistently head and shoulders above the rest at Arsenal. His mentality, stamina levels, technique, dazzling skills and intelligence have remained unmatched from start to finish.
Throughout his tenure at the Emirates, Alexis has carried many of his teammates and hasn't enjoyed the responsibility for quite some; a problem that won't exist should he move to the North West. Were it not for the acrimonious manner of his inevitable exit, Sanchez would surely be remembered by the Gunners faithful as a world-class star - perhaps one of their best in the 21st century. In this writer’s mind, Alexis Sanchez will certainly continue to shine in his quest for silverware and glory elsewhere.