Arsenal ace Alexis Sanchez a perfect fit for Antonio Conte at Chelsea
Alexis Sanchez enters the final year of his Arsenal contract this summer and the longer he waits to agree an extension, the more confident rival clubs will grow that he can be prised away from the Emirates at the end of this season.
Juventus, Paris Saint-Germain, Sevilla and several Chinese Super League clubs have all been linked with a move for Sanchez in recent weeks, while reports that Chelsea are monitoring his situation closely have never been far from the discussion about his future.
ESPN FC gives five reasons why Sanchez would be a perfect fit at Chelsea …
1. He already plays Conte’s style of football
Chelsea have scored 45 goals in 20 Premier League matches since Antonio Conte’s decision to switch to a 3-4-3 system in late September, cutting into opposing defences with fast, fluid and expansive passing that exploits the full width of the pitch, as well as plenty of direct running.
Sanchez ranks sixth in the Premier League for successful dribbles per game (2.9) and fourth for key passes (2.5). His attacking ambition every time he gets the ball has yielded 17 goals and eight assists in 25 Premier League appearances, and his famous work rate would instantly make him indispensable to Conte.
2. He can play any role in Chelsea’s front three
For the first two years of his Arsenal career, Sanchez largely distinguished himself in the same position that Eden Hazard occupies for Chelsea, cutting infield from the left side of the attack. This season, however, the Chilean has devastated Premier League defences as a muscular False No.9.
It isn’t hard to imagine Sanchez thriving as one of the two wingers drifting around Diego Costa in Chelsea’s 3-4-3 system, but he has also provided plenty of evidence in recent months that he could act as the focal point if Costa is unavailable or leaves Stamford Bridge this summer.
3. He is an upgrade on Pedro
Pedro rediscovering the form that made him so valuable to Barcelona has enabled Chelsea to reach a new level of attacking threat since October.
The Spain international has contributed seven goals and six assists in the Premier League, and his ability to stretch defences with incisive runs off the ball is a superb complement to the talents of Hazard and Costa.
But as good as Pedro is, partnering Sanchez with two other genuine stars would give Chelsea the most dangerous front line anywhere outside of Barcelona. If the opportunity to do a deal presents itself, the decision would be an easy one.
4. He hates losing as much as Conte
Conte has said on several occasions this season that he is haunted by past defeats, and revealed last week that he couldn’t sleep for six days after the Juventus team he captained surrendered a six-point lead with seven matches left to lose the 1999-00 Serie A title to Lazio on the final day of the season.
When you watch Sanchez’s body language on the pitch, it’s clear that Arsenal’s repeated failings affect him so much more than the majority of his teammates. His hatred of losing is said to be a key factor in his willingness to consider leaving the Gunners this summer, and it’s also why Conte would love him.
5. He is a known quantity in the Premier League
The majority of the attacking targets that Chelsea are reported to be monitoring with an eye towards summer reinforcements — Alvaro Morata, Moussa Dembele, Andrea Belotti — would represent less than a sure thing to succeed at the top level of English football.
Sanchez is not a gamble. By this summer he will have been one of the most thrillingly productive attackers in the Premier League for three full seasons and, at 28, is operating at the peak of his powers. If Chelsea are successful in luring him across London, they know exactly what they will be getting.