Alexis Sanchez, Marseille

Alexis Sanchez: 5 things on Marseille's new superstar

Alexis Sanchez: 5 things on Marseille's new superstar

Publish on 08/16 at 17:49 - S. TELFORD


Alexis Sanchez has joined Olympique de Marseille following the conclusion of his contract with Inter Milan. He's won honours in Spain, England and Italy, but what else is there to know about the Chilean national treasure?

1) Udinese youngster


Sanchez was born in Tocopilla in the north of Chile six days before Christmas in 1988, and was on the books of Universidad Catolica and O'Higgins as a kid before being handed his senior debut by Cobreloa just two months past his 16th birthday.


Part of a team that included future Chile teammates Charles Aranguiz and Eduardo Vargas, Alexis was soon spirited away to Europe with Serie A side Udinese acquiring him at the end of his first top-flight season in 2006.


Initially loaned back to South America, first with Colo Colo and then River Plate, the young forward returned to Udine in 2008 as league winner in both Chile and Argentina, and with fire in his belly.


In the three seasons that followed, Alexis scored 21 goals and assisted 20 more in 112 games in all competitions. His final campaign saw 22 goal involvements at a rate of one every 109 minutes, and Barcelona soon came calling.

2) Barca boss


Alexis's move to Barca for €37.5 million in 2011 made him the most expensive Chilean of all-time, the fee comfortably surpassing the €28.5m Juventus paid Lazio for striker Marcelo Salas 10 years earlier.


Not one to shy away from pressure, he duly asked for the No.9 shirt that had once been his idol Ronaldo Nazario's. Although his first season in Catalonia was injury-ravaged, Sanchez soon settled into his stride at Camp Nou, flourishing in a front three with Lionel Messi and Pedro.


He helped Barca win the La Liga title with a record-equalling 100 points in 2012/13, and although the Blaugrana were pipped to the title by Ateltico Madrid the following season, he still scored a career best 21 goals in all competitions before making his next move, to Arsenal, in 2014.



3) A Gunners great...


Although his footballing CV glistens with silverware won either side of his time with the Gunners, Alexis will perhaps remain best-remembered for his Arsenal spell - at least on this side of the Atlantic.


Although Sanchez's stop in North London was one of the few that failed to bring a league title with it - Arsenal were third, second, fifth and sixth in Sanchez's four years at the Emirates - he was still widely regarded as one of, if not the, best player in the Premier League with his combination of pace and power striking fear into opposition defenders.


And there were trophies - a Community Shield in 2014 and two FA Cup triumphs in 2015 and 2017. He opened the scoring in the latter of those, a 2-1 win over Chelsea, winning a record 13th FA Cup for Arsenal and seventh for manager Arsène Wenger.


The first player since Robin van Persie in 2012 to score more than 20 league goals for Arsenal when he hit 24 in 2017, Alexis followed the Dutchman to Manchester United in the winter of 2018...



4) Red-hot Chile striker


Alexis may have struggled to hit the same heights at club level since leaving Arsenal - even if he did win Serie A with Inter Milan in 2021 - but his standing at international level is beyond question.


Dubbed "El Niño Maravilla" - Spanish for Wonder Child - by local press early in his career, Sanchez has blossomed into probably Chile's greatest of all time, which is saying something when he has the aforementioned Salas and Ivan Zamorano for company in that conversation.


Sanchez led Chile to their first major honour when they won the Copa America in 2015, scoring the winning penalty against Messi's Argentina in the final. He captained them to a repeat of the trick at the Centenario edition of the tournament the following year, winning the Golden Ball as the tournament's best player in the process.


With 148 caps and 48 goals, Alexis is both his country's all-time record appearance-maker as well as La Roja's record goalscorer. Little wonder he now has a statue in his honour in his native Tocopilla.



5) Ligue 1 legacy


Sanchez is the 11th Chilean to have plied his trade in Ligue 1 Uber Eats since Fernando Riera became the first with the great Stade de Reims team back in 1950.


LOSC have had the most Chilean players, Hector Tapia becoming their third in 2003 after Ignacio Prieto and Alberto Fouilloux had already turned out for les Dogues in the 1970s.


Alexis has a current international teammate playing in the league in Guillermo Maripan, one he will come directly up against when Marseille travel to the Stade Louis II to take on AS Monaco in Round 15.


And if Sanchez adds French silverware to his already cluttered trophy cabinet, he won't be the first of his countrymen to do so: defensive midfielder Marco Estrada was part of the Montpellier Hérault SC who shocked French football by winning the league ahead of Paris Saint-Germain in 2012.

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