New signing Romelu Lukaku might have been delivering most of the goals for Antonio Conte but there could be more goals to come from yet another forward. That man is Alexis Sanchez. The Chile forward ended a miserable 18-month spell at Old Trafford when he completed a season-long loan move to the San Siro at the end of August.
Despite making only one appearance as a substitute since his move from Manchester United, there is more to come from him and many reasons to be optimistic.
Once upon a time, Sanchez was largely feared by defenders. The 30-year-old’s career looked like he was set for very big things – until he hit a snag at United. While at Arsenal, he made himself well known and rightly earned the “world-class” status he was afforded at the time. As per Transfermarkt, the Chilean scored 80 goals in 168 appearances for Arsenal. Those are numbers even top strikers would be proud of, so to achieve that playing from the flanks was a really praiseworthy feat. Throughout his time at Arsenal, he finished as the club’s top-scorer in all seasons and it’s no surprise that since he left them, the Gunners have not had a winger with up to half of the goals Sanchez delivered while at the club.
It all seemed like he was getting better like ageing wine – until the very end at least. After initial rumours of a move to Manchester City failed to materialize in 2017, the Chilean found himself on his way to Manchester United in a swap deal that saw Henrikh Mkhitaryan move the other way.
Of course, securing his services was expensive, rightly so, and Manchester United had to make him the most paid player in the Premier League in the process. But as Sanchez would have realized now, it’s not always greener on the other side – especially if you’re at Manchester United.
The rest is history as Sanchez never lived up to the bill at Old Trafford and failed to make any impact at the club. In about two seasons playing at United, Sanchez only managed a mere five goals in 45 appearances (via Transfermarkt) and in the end he was labelled a “flop” by all standards. His career was begging for a revival and so it was written that Conte, Lukaku and Sanchez will all be tied together in the end.
Sanchez wasn’t the only one to have gone through a rough patch at United as Lukaku also fell down the pecking order in his latter season at United. In the end he made the move to San Siro and it has indeed been greener for him.
Sanchez might be a man lacking form and confidence right now but as we all know, class is permanent and the Chilean is one with lots of that up his sleeves.
Sanchez is hoping to revive his career in Italy, where he previously enjoyed success with Udinese, and the Chilean says Lukaku and former Chelsea boss Antonio Conte both persuaded him to return to Serie A. These factors coupled together makes it certain Sanchez would kick it up in no time just as Romelu Lukaku has done.
“I am happy to return to Italian football, then we will see. I want to do only the best for me, for the team and for the Inter fans,” Sanchez told Sky in Italy.
“We can talk about a championship, I am here to win something. The team has not won for eight years, but has everything to do it.
“The group is young and strong, there is a coach who wants to win. The presence of Conte was important, he conveys confidence to the players.
“Lukaku is happy to be here, he also convinced me to come here.”
The hunger Lukaku and Sanchez both had to revive their careers is what will ultimately make them profitable signings at the club. On a good day, Sanchez guarantees at least 15-20 goals a season and there’s no reason to suggest he can’t do that at Inter as well.
Furthermore, the fact that he’s still on a loan deal will mean he’ll be eager to put his best foot forward so Inter can permanently put him out of his misery at the hands of Manchester United.
The fact that Lukaku and other attackers have hit the ground running will even be more motivation for him, knowing there is healthy competition upfront and he has to be exceptional to stake a claim for a starting spot.
Also, the fact that he’s familiar with Italian football after his five-year stint with Udinese makes it easier for him to settle into his “new surroundings”.
However, Conte insists there is no need to rush Sanchez into Inter’s starting eleven, with the side currently top of the Serie A having won all of their matches so far.
“For him it is worth the words I give for everyone else,” Conte told Sky Italia ahead of Inter’s match against Lazio on Wednesday night.
“When I see ready players, they will be inserted [into the starting line-up]. I have to work in the interest of Inter, not of individuals.”
It’s only a matter of time before Sanchez gets a regular run in under Conte and starts to deliver goals we know he is well capable of scoring. An in-form Sanchez, Lukaku, Sensei and a host of other players could mean Inter have goals coming from all over the pitch and that attacking potent could come in handy when one particular player runs out of steam. Lukaku has been brilliant but realistically he won’t score in every game. Someone to easily ease the scoring burden off him will be much appreciated and who better to do that than his close friend and teammate, Alexis Sanchez.