LONDON: Alexis Sanchez’s future at Arsenal is in doubt with rumours about a move to Bayern Munich but few Gunners’ fans would begrudge him bowing out with a second FA Cup winners medal.
The 28-year-old Chilean — known as the ‘Wonder Kid’ — has at times this season cut a disgruntled figure venting his spleen at his team-mates after a limpid performance in a 5-1 humiliation at the hands of Bayern in their Champions League last 16 first leg clash.
His frustration, and poor morale among his team-mates which affected their performances, has been blamed on uncertainty over Arsene Wenger’s future — largely self-inflicted by the cerebral Frenchman’s refusal to clarify it.
Sanchez, though, rarely voices his opinions in public but he told Sky Sports in early May his grumpiness was apparently more to do with his own failings and not those of his team-mates.
“Players who want success in football and people who want to achieve greatness in life get angry when it’s not going well and demand more from themselves,” he said.
“Sometimes I am frustrated, sometimes I’m not. There have been games when we have been in a position to kick on and win, but we have made a small mistake and found ourselves 2-0 down.
“Sometimes that gets to me because winning those points is so important if you want to win the Premier League.
“No, I’m not normally like that [an angry character]. I sometimes get angry with myself because there are moments on the pitch when I make mistakes and I don’t like it when that happens.”
– ‘A decent pitch to play on’ –
Sanchez, though, insists that it is not the money he finds the most alluring thing about playing football — he grew up in abject poverty in the mining town of Tocopilla — but winning trophies.
They have been in short supply during his three years at the Gunners — the 2015 FA Cup being the sole exception.
“I think that if a player wants to be at the very top, he needs to win the Champions League and league titles,” Sanchez told Sky Sports.
“That’s what makes the great players truly great.”
Sanchez has never forgotten his humble origins.
He has time and again returned home to hand out presents such as footballs or build something more substantial in order to offer hope to the present and future generations of children keen to follow in their hero’s footsteps.
“I’ve built two football pitches because I wanted the kids to have a decent pitch to play on as I never had that,” Sanchez told the club website last year.
“People can end up going down the wrong path, like alcohol and drugs, and that’s bad news for children. Whenever I am there I try to set up events, play with the kids and promote other things.
“When I do go to Tocopilla, I try to set up events and give footballs just to see the smiles on the children’s faces as I honestly believe that small children are the most important things in the world.”
Sanchez, whose 24 Premier League goals this season are twice as many as the next Gunners player, Olivier Giroud, unsurprisingly has not seen his good deeds go unrewarded — a statue of him in Tocopilla was unveiled earlier this year.
“As long as I’m playing football I’m happy –- wherever that may be,” Sanchez told Arsenal’s website.
“When I moved to Italy [to join Udinese in 2006], I was the happiest man in the world, like a child. Playing football is what makes me happy.”