Gary Neville has noted how watching Alexis Sanchez playing for Manchester United made him feel “sad”.
The Chilean moved to Old Trafford over the January transfer window in an exchange deal for Henrikh Mkhitaryan, prompting widespread enthusiasm from supporters who believed Man United had received the better deal.
But he has since only managed three goals in a United shirt and looks completely lost on the pitch in a tactically dysfunctional Jose Mourinho team.
Speaking earlier this week, Neville made a point of how players did not suddenly turn awful, noting it was “sad” to see Sanchez’s current situation at United.
“Sanchez looks like a shadow of the player United signed, he looks like a shadow of the player Arsenal had,” he said. “Alexis Sanchez has been a warrior of a player to watch over the last few years and you don’t become a bad player overnight.”
“The idea that he now looks the way he does, more than anything I feel sad. When you see a player struggling like that it’s just sad, you know that player has been a great player over the last few years.
“He’s a fighter, he chases back, he’s a hurrier and a scurrier, he’s everything you want to see on a football pitch. I expected him to hit the ground running this season and I’ve just got no answer for it.”
Somewhere in there lies a remarkable player: rampantly energetic, proficient in the final third, decisive, powerful, skilful, a pleasure to watch.
At Arsenal all of this was on show in a team which afforded him more space and touches around the final third. There was movement in front of him and, as a result, he was a live wire.
At United there is no movement, no invention, and now space in which to attack and make inroads. It is as if Sanchez – the common idea of Sanchez as a player – is being strangled.