There is plenty of craft, guile and pace to the Arsenal attack this season, and this is largely thanks to the arrival of Alexis Sanchez from Barcelona. The Chilean was one of the stars in the World Cup last summer, making him one of the hottest assets in football.
It was Wenger that managed to get the 26 year old’s signature, and he has turned out to be one of the signings of the season. Many players struggle to adjust to life in the Premier League, *cough Ozil*, but Sanchez has taken to the league like a duck to water.
He has been at the heart of everything positive for the Gunners this season, and thanks to his goals, assists and playmaking ability Arsenal are in with a shot of stealing 2nd and they will also see themselves as firm favourites to lift the F.A Cup once again. Arsenal fans will be delighted with this, but not as much as Arsene Wenger who has Sanchez to thank for alleviating much of the pressure that was on his shoulders.
Unlike many of the stars in the world of football, Sanchez comes across as quiet figure and keeps himself to himself. As it turns out, he is a fascinating character and someone whose talents extend off the field.
Here are 10 interesting facts about the Arsenal and Chile superstar.
He grew up in a poverty stricken area of Chile.
Sanchez may now be on huge wages and leading a glamorous lifestyle, but as a boy he grew up in poverty. He is from a mining town in Chile called Tocopilla, and he earned money to help his family when he was just 6 years old. He would wash cars, perform somersaults and box in the street for money.
His mother single handily brought up him and his 3 siblings.
Sanchez’s father deserted his family when Alexis was just a toddler, leaving his mother to bring up him and his 3 siblings. He has 2 sisters, Tamara and Marjorie, as well as a brother named Humberto. His mother, Martina, worked multiple jobs to bring in money, including washing fish and selling flowers. This difficult upbringing is what inspired Alexis to succeed, and he can now provide for his mother and his 3 siblings.
He was nicknamed “The Squirrel” as a child.
On the streets of Tocopilla a very young Alexis earned the nickname “The Squirrel”, and this was due to the fact that he would bound up trees to recover lost balls, as well as his boundless energy whilst playing football on the streets. “The Squirrel” soon became known as “The Wonder Kid”, which is now certainly a fitting nickname for the Chilean who has taken the Premier League by storm.
He once arrived late for a youth match but would go on to score 8.
Sanchez’s was brought to Club Arauco youth team by Alberto Toledo, and he quickly showed his potential in a game despite arriving late. Sanchez arrived at the game to find his team trailing 1-0, but he soon corrected this by entering the game and bagging a remarkable 8 goals to help his team win the game. This would mark the beginning of an incredible journey for the youngster who is now a £30 million player.
His professional career began at Cobreloa.
At just 16 years old, Sanchez was promoted to the senior first team for Cobreloa, and after an impressive debut season he was soon snapped up by Udinese in 2006. He was immediately loaned to Colo-Colo, and here he was hugely impressive and he would also win his first professional silverware. Next up was a loan to Argentinean giants River Plate, and after another successful season he was ready to play for Udinese. He became a key player here, and he soon was snapped up by Barcelona for £25 million.
He is a talented piano player.
Sanchez recently showed that his talents extend off the pitch, and this was through him posting a video of himself playing the piano. Sanchez performed an impressive rendition of John Legend’s “All of Me”, and earlier in the season a video was posted of him performing Richard Marx’s “Right Here Waiting” at the Arsenal Christmas party. He has also recently demonstrated another talent of his, juggling. He posted a video of himself impressively juggling a garlic bulb, rubber frog, mini Thor toy, a small football and a grapefruit.
He donated £160,000 to restore 5 pitches in his hometown.
As a boy, Sanchez would play barefoot on dirty pitches in his hometown, and it is here where he honed the skills that he now shows at the Emirates and the other fantastic stadiums up and down the country (as well as worldwide). His hometown is clearly still a hugely important place for him, and his recent donation to restore youth pitches shows that he wants to give back and help others to follow in his footsteps.
He is a dog lover.
If Alexis’s Instagram account is anything to go by, he is a huge dog lover. There are many posts of him dressing them up, sleeping next to them and he has even been seen wearing t-shirts with their faces on (as well as them wearing his jerseys). He has also very recently brought his dogs to training with him as he prepared for Sunday’s friendly with Brazil, going on a run with them as part of his warm up.
He scored 47 goals in 141 appearances for Barcelona.
Many people first took notice of Sanchez following his impressive performance at the summer World Cup, but he had in fact been making headlines way before this. Sanchez signed for Barcelona from Udinese in 2011, and he would go on to play 3 seasons for the Catalan giants. In this time, Sanchez netted 47 goals in 141 appearances, and he also won the league title, the Spanish Cup, 2 Spanish Super Cups, 1 European Super Cup and 1 FIFA World Clubs Cup.
He had the best chance conversion rate in Spain during the 2013/2014 season.
Sanchez was hugely impressive in his last season at Barcelona, and particularly in front of goal. The Chilean scored 19 goals from just 61 shots, and this gave him the best conversion rate for the season on the Spanish top flight. When you consider the talent that is in this league, you can see why Wenger was happy to spend £30 million on him. He has picked up where he left off for the Gunners, with 19 goals to his name so far this season.