Alexis Sanchez has lost confidence, according to his former Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger, with the Chilean struggling to make his mark at Manchester United.
The South American forward flourished at Emirates Stadium during his time working under an iconic coach, with his reputation firmly enhanced in north London.
He was, however, to take the decision in January to head for pastures new, as his contract with the Gunners ran down, and crossed the Premier League divide to end up at Old Trafford.
Sané has been in and out of the City side this season. Had Sanchez arrived, its tempting to wonder if he would have become Citys Martial, starved of opportunity, while Sterling had rather less competition on the right. Sergio Aguero, too, may have suffered. Versatile players always have an appeal to inveterate tinkerers like Guardiola. Specialist strikers can look like endangered species in his sides and, at times, Aguero has been benched for those who press more naturally or who better resemble false nines. Sanchez would have been a threat.
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Things have not gone to plan for Sanchez in Manchester, who was considered to be quite a coup upon his arrival, with just four goals recorded so far.
So lost has the 29-year-old looked that he is generating more transfer talk 12 months on from his deal with the Red Devils, with Jose Mourinho struggling to bring the best out of him.
Wenger is saddened to see a former charge enduring such a dip, with the Frenchman telling beIN SPORTS: I believe he has lost confidence.
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Those are the players who are most vulnerable when they lose confidence their game is based on that and having that feeling to take initiative, he has lost that slowly.
Since the start of the season he had a high level of physical energy but he has lost that as well.
“We’re still surprised,” said Wenger. “Because he does the unexpected he shows his ‘abdoms’ [abdominal muscles] after, but he doesn’t score because of his ‘abdoms’. He scored because his skill and speed of decisions.”
After grabbing a dramatic winner in a 3-2 victory over Newcastle prior to the October international break, Sanchez has been used sparingly since.
He was handed just five minutes off the bench in a 2-2 draw with Chelsea, before missing out on Champions League and Premier League meetings with Juventus and Everton.
Mourinho did welcome him back for a clash with Bournemouth, as Romelu Lukaku slipped out of the fold, and a starting berth was retained for a European return date with Juve.
United claimed 2-1 successes on the road in both of those fixtures, but Sanchez is still searching for his spark as awkward questions continue to be asked of his value to the cause.
Lukaku is not a bad player, he is just out of form and out of shape. Still, he is not the right forward for Manchester United to hang their hat on. Mourinho should continue using Sanchez as his central striker, and work off him. The counter-attack system should be how United aim to play in the big games and with Sanchez and Martial flying at an opposition defence, they should reap the rewards naturally.
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Alexis Sanchez is finally starting to show signs he can replicate his best Arsenal form at Manchester United – according to his former Gunners manager Arsene Wenger.
Manchester United looked back to their fluid best last night as a front three of Anthony Martial, Jesse Lingard and Alexis Sanchez looked dynamic on the counter-attack against a fierce Juventus side. Sanchez, playing in the central role, hassled the experienced Juve back line and forced them into mistakes throughout the game.
The Chilean has endured a turbulent time in his 10 months at Old Trafford after arriving in a swap deal for Henrikh Mkhitaryan.
Reports of the star’s demise and struggles at United have led to reports the club are looking to offload Sanchez – while the star’s reported £500,000 a week wages are also said to be causing United struggles in their efforts to tie down Anthony Martial and David De Gea to new deals.
But Sanchez appears to have turned a corner at United having started the last three matches more centrally in the absence of Romelu Lukaku – a fact our readers were keen to highlight – and Wenger believes the club may finally be starting to see what the Chilean is all about.
The issue the big Belgian has is that he, unfortunately, slows every attack down. His touch has come under a lot of criticism and it is clear to see the difference between a sharp-minded Sanchez and Lukaku, who seems to struggle to bring others into play.
And the Frenchman, while admitting Sanchez has struggled, believes Jose Mourinhos decision to take him out of the firing line a month ago has paid off.
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These kind of players are most vulnerable when they have no confidence anymore because their game is based on confidence and feeling free to take initiative.
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He has lost that slowly, even with the interruption of the season, since the start of the season he looks like he had a high level of energy that he has lost as well.
Certainly, he is refreshed now because Mourinho left him out for a while and he has a good opportunity to get back to where he belongs, as a top player.
I think hes getting somewhere near what we know and Id have been very disappointed being taken off after playing like that today, he said after Saturday’s win over Bournemouth.
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