Alexis Sanchez hasn’t had the best of years in his career recently. He’s been branded a lot of things by different fanbases. The parting from Arsenal wasn’t a happy one, while the stint at Manchester United was a disaster. While his time at Inter hasn’t been overly poor, but Antonio Conte’s men should not look to sign the Chilean permanently.
Sanchez’s performance against Milan was certainly a good one. Playing beside Romelu Lukaku as Lautaro Martinez was suspended after getting sent off against Cagliari, Sanchez got an assist and enjoyed a very good outing. Even on his debut against Sampdoria, Sanchez scored to hand the Nerazzurri a crucial 3-1 win away from home.
He also grabbed an assist in Inter’s loss to Barcelona, but what followed next led to an overreliance on Lukaku and Lautaro. Sanchez suffered an ankle injury that kept him out till the beginning of 2020, as the period saw Conte hand a debut to teenager Sebastiano Esposito. The Italian even scored a goal against Genoa.
Since Sanchez returned, Esposito didn’t make a single appearance in the league. He’s become a back-up to Lautaro and Lukaku again, but the prolific duo has been a level above the rest of the club’s attacking players. Together, Lukaku and Lautaro have scored 28 goals between themselves to show their impressive goalscoring prowess.
Matteo Politano wasn’t getting enough football and was let go to Napoli in January. That clearly shows what Conte likes in his team- a workhorse in Lautaro and a bigger striker in Lukaku. The fact that Sanchez has played only 199 minutes of Serie A football shows that a back-up striker in the team has to be either someone old like Olivier Giroud or a youngster like Esposito.
Having an aged striker like the Inter-liked Giroud and Fernando Llorente will make sure that they don’t demand regular football. The same applies to Esposito, who will grow in stature slowly. Conte has slyly made it clear that he wants a striker who can help the side play long-balls upfront.
After the 1-1 draw against Slavia in the Champions League, Conte said: “I would always like to see improvement, however today, talking about the football that we showed we took a step backwards. Plan B? What plan B? We don’t train to play long balls. We practice playing under pressure in order to find solutions.”
This explains why Inter want a Plan B striker upfront- someone like Giroud himself. Against Lazio, Inter had their central areas clogged as Lazio cut out central passing lanes. It saw Lautaro never get involved in the game and Lukaku fall short of service. If Inter had a taller striker, they could have got something from that loss. Sanchez couldn’t make a difference, as he isn’t that sort of a striker.
And his fitness has become worse than it was at Arsenal. Since the start of the 2018-19 season, Sanchez has missed 34 games due to injury. And considering his age, there is a chance it can still get worse.
Then there’s the question of wages. United are paying a part of his wages as Inter can’t afford the whole of them. A back-up forward can’t earn a big amount of money and it goes against footballing common sense. He is still 31 and can play first-team football. It can happen in China, where clubs can afford his wages.