Arsenal star Alexis Sanchez remains a near-daily subject of discussion in the media due to the uncertainty surrounding his future. The Chilean enjoyed arguably the season of his career on a personal level, netting a career-best 30 goals in all competitions, but an overall turbulent campaign for Arsenal leaves them without Champions League football for the first time in Arsene Wenger’s Gunners career.
That puts them in a compromising situation when pondering the possibility of Alexis Sanchez leaving for a Champions League club, but thus far nothing has risen to the surface, despite rumours of Bayern Munich and Manchester City’s interest.
Nonetheless, here we seek to discover all the reasons why Alexis Sanchez is a player worthy of demanding an £90 million transfer fee from Arsenal by comparing him to other strikers in the Premier League and across Europe.
The extended holiday granted to Olivier Giroud following the 2016 European Championships opened the door for Alexis Sanchez to hold down the centre-forward position at the beginning of last season. The Chilean’s berth at centre-forward produced some of his best displays in an Arsenal shirt since signing from Barcelona for £32 million in 2014.
Alexis Sanchez produced the first ever 20+ goal-season of his career in domestic competition, finishing with 24 Premier League goals in 38 appearances – the most at Arsenal since Robin van Persie hit 30 in 2011/12.
Due to his versatility and, therefore, his varying positions on the pitch when attempting shots on goal, Sanchez does not have a great shooting accuracy ratio. In fact, the 28-year-old took the 3rd most shots in the Premier League last season (129), and the 6th most shots from range (51 – and only scoring with 3 of them), leaving him with a shot accuracy ratio of 0.38.
As we found out in one of our previous articles, a high shot accuracy ratio doesn’t always equate to prolific goal-scoring. Inter Milan’s Mauro Icardi was proof of this, netting 24 times in Serie A last season with one of the worst accuracy ratios taken from the top scorers around Europe, at just 0.35.
Icardi, as we will soon find out with Sanchez, did have an impressive ratio when analysing the success of shots which did test the keeper, though. Icardi scored with every 0.63 shots that hit the target (scored 24 Serie A goals with 38 shots on target).
Sanchez’s figures are inferior, at 0.49 (scored 24 Premier League goals with 49 shots on target), but he ranks as one of the best amongst the Premier League’s top-ten scorers. His numbers are only bettered by Golden Boot winner Harry Kane, at 0.52 (scored 29 Premier League goals with 58 shots on target) and Joshua King, at 0.52 (scored 16 Premier League goals with 31 shots on target).
Other than obvious finishing ability in and around the box, what are some of the distinguishing features of Alexis Sanchez’s game?
Playmaking, dribbling and work rate. Amongst the top-ten scorers in the Premier League, Alexis Sanchez returned the highest number of assists (10), a tally which was closely matched only by Harry Kane, Dele Alli and Diego Costa (each with 7).
Even more impressive is Sanchez’s key passing numbers, which rate him alongside some of the best playmakers in the division. He ranks 8th in the Premier League for key passes (78) overall, and is 2nd when comparing him to other top-ten goal-scorers (Eden Hazard is first with 88 key passes in 36 appearances).
As for dribbling, Sanchez is the 4th-most successful dribbler in the division, beating his man 109 out of the 161 times he attempted to dribble past a player. Again, amongst the most prolific players in the Premier League, only Eden Hazard boasted bettered numbers (143 successful dribbles out of 186 attempts).
The desire of the Chilean to fight for every ball and give 100% is evident; amongst other Premier League forwards, Alexis Sanchez made the 2nd most tackles (53 in 38 appearances), with only Roberto Firmino managing more (58 in 35 appearances).
To put his numbers in the context of Europe’s most prolific scorers, Alexis Sanchez made more tackles than any other player in Europe who managed to score at least 20 goals in their domestic competition.
His interception figures (25 interceptions) also rank him close to the top amongst Premier League forwards, but the familiar names of Eden Hazard and Roberto Firmino (both made 26 interceptions) once again hold slightly better numbers.
The spread of attributes that Alexis Sanchez possesses makes it understandable as to why Arsenal have placed such an extraordinary price tag over his head. His sale would not only demand the need for another 20+ goals a season striker (perhaps a need satisfied through the purchase of Alexandre Lacazette), but require a player, or perhaps players, of equal playmaking, dribbling and work rate to come into the side.