When Manchester United prised Alexis Sanchez away from Arsenal in January and, according to Spotrac, made him the highest-paid star in the Premier League, they were securing themselves one of the hottest talents in the English top flight.
However, since his arrival at Old Trafford, the Chilean has so far failed to hit the heights on the pitch that he regularly achieved for the Gunners. Given that he arrived in January, at the end of a high profile and long running transfer saga, it is understandable that the 29-year-old would need some time, and a pre-season, to fully settle in at his new club.
Sanchez has failed to hit the ground running in the new season either though, and is not yet off the mark in this campaign. In fact, Sanchez has only found the back of the net three times in all competitions since joining the Red Devils.
For context, in his last full season at the Emirates Stadium, Sanchez scored 30 goals and registered 18 assists in 51 appearances in all competitions. Those were the kind of blistering figures that United sanctioned such great expense to secure, but they have not yet been delivered.
Against Watford on Saturday, Sanchez once again looked a long way from his best. Jose Mourinho’s men ran out winners at Vicarage Road but the ex-Arsenal man can’t claim much credit for the triumph.
In the 81 minutes he played against the Hornets before being hauled off in favour of Scott McTominay, Sanchez managed only 46 touches – of those in Jose Mourinho’s starting XI, only two, Romelu Lukaku and David de Gea, got on the ball less.
Not only was Sanchez rather uninvolved, he was uninspired and wasteful when actually in possession too. He completed a meagre 32 passes – again, only Lukaku and de Gea registered fewer amongst the United starters – and could provide just a single key pass. His pass completion rating was also underwhelming, coming in at a very average 81.3%.
On top of that, Sanchez was dispossessed four times. No one on the pitch was dispossessed more often than the Chile international.
The other areas of Sanchez’s attacking game were as equally poor as his distribution. In all his time on the pitch, he could only muster one shot on goal. Further, he only proved capable of completing one dribble, meaning that, all in all, Sanchez posed very little threat to the opposition defence.
At this time, Sanchez has avoided receiving too much criticism from fans or the press. But considering his huge contract and big reputation, it can only be a matter of time before his poor form comes under intense scrutiny should he fail to hit his stride soon.
If he can’t get back to his best, then his move to United must surely go down as one of the costliest transfer flops in Premier League history.
It is too early to definitively label Sanchez a bad buy, but for such an explosive and high-energy player it is conceivable that his peak is now behind him. Sanchez must be desperate to disprove that notion, but his performances have to improve if he is ever going to justify his status as the top earner in the Premier League.