Legendary Barcelona midfielder Xavi has heaped praise on former teammate Alexis Sanchez
Sanchez has been in brilliant form after being utilised as a centre forward by Arsene Wenger this season. The Chilean international has arguably been Arsenal’s best player and been one of the key reasons that they’ve been one of the front runners in the title race so far.
The 27-year old already has 14 goals and picked up 8 assists in all competitions for Arsenal in only 22 appearances – 1 of which came as a substitute.
Xavi – who played alongside Sanchez for 3 years between 2011-2014 at Barcelona – says he is not surprised that Sanchez is now considered one of the best forwards in Europe.
Xavi feels that Sanchez was always capable of hitting these heights, and that he is only being recognised for it now because he is in a team where he is the star, as opposed to at Barcelona where he was surrounded by superstars.
“The level Sanchez is playing at now is not a shock to me at all, he is one of the top forwards in Europe and now everybody is seeing it,” Xavi said, according to the Daily Express.
“He scored some important goals for Barcelona but maybe because there were so many established stars already at Barcelona that not everybody recognised him as they should.”
“Now at Arsenal he is their main threat, people are starting to notice – but anybody who has played with him will know of his qualities and not be at all surprised he is now being considered one of the best attacking players in the world. What gets him so much respect is his work rate. He has this obvious ability but also works so hard for the team, he never stops running.”
Xavi is not wrong about Sanchez being one of the best in Europe. Before the match against Everton, statistics showed that Sanchez was even outperforming the likes of Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, Neymar, Cristiano Ronaldo and Robert Lewandowski in league football.
With 11 goals, 5 assists and 2.7 chances created every game, Sanchez had been more efficient than Messi. The Argentine has notched up 12 goals and 3 assists, while creating 1.8 chances per game. His strike partner Luis Suarez has 10 goals, 3 assists and was creating 1.3 chances per game.
It is these performances that have sparked rumours that Sanchez is now being pursued by the biggest clubs around Europe. But Arsene Wenger has steadfastly refuted any claims that Sanchez will be allowed to leave, even going so far as to say that he will even let the Chilean run down the 18 months left on his contract if he does not sign an extension.
Sanchez for his part has said that he wants to stay and it is up to the club to show him that they want to keep him, which usually means that the player wants a better financial offer and wants to be reassured that Arsenal are capable of winning titles. If Sanchez keeps his form up, he might just be the main reason they manage to do so.