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Barcelona's decision to spend €26 million on Alexis Sánchez was illogical.
At the start of the 2010-11 season, Udinese manager Francesco Guidolin had dropped Alexis after he turned over the ball 44 percent of the time in a 4-0 loss to Juventus.
Sánchez would start on the bench in the next three games against Bologna, Sampdoria and Cesena.
The winger wasn't decisive, had negative body language and was on a six-game goalless drought.
He was afforded a lifeline, though, because Guidolin's Udinese side lacked incisiveness without El Niño Maravilla as a starter.
Tapping into decades of football experience, Francesco thought to himself: "What do I need to do in order to maximise Alexis' world-class talent?"
Rob Paton at Football Italia documented Guidolin's left-field tactical adjustment:
The international break in early October saw numerous reports linking Sánchez with a switch abroad—fueled by the player refusing to rule them out.
Guidolin declined comment on the speculation, instead telling the player to concentrate on footballing matters.
During the international break, the club played a behind-closed-doors friendly with Slovenian side FC Koper and Guidolin involved Sanchez in his experiments, ones that saw the evolution of the 3-4-1-2 as the side's first-choice formation.
The decision to switch the team's focus from Di Natale to Sanchez drew criticism and surprise in equal measures.
Whilst Sanchez' strengths may be best suited to a wide role where the space and one-on-one situations encourage his pace and dribbling, the central creative role has brought out his best performances in a Bianconero shirt in arguably a year.
Francesco explained why he moved Alexis from the wings to the No. 10 position (from La Stampa via Paolo Bandini at The Score):
We took a gamble on Sánchez. He had always played wide, but when I arrived I put forward the idea of playing him behind the striker.
From a central position he can be even more decisive. Playing as a No. 10, he is more unpredictable, harder [for opponents] to keep tabs on.
Sánchez led the league in completed dribbles per game and was the only Serie A player to win 100 or more free kicks (having a phD in diving comes in handy).
With goose eggs in goals and assists after two months, Alexis stormed back to score 12 goals and provide six assists.
A third of his goals came in that remarkable 7-0 thrashing of Palermo.
His self-esteem levels that day were even higher than Nicklas Bendtner (if that's possible) as Salvatore Sirigu found out when Sánchez raced through on goal, did three step-overs and slotted the ball home.
With 53 minutes played, Alexis had netted four times and was withdrawn for Germán Denis. If the Chilean played the entire game, the deficit would have reached double-digits.
That game drew another classic quote from outspoken Palermo president Maurizio Zamparini (via Alan Gardner at The Guardian): "Delio Rossi has a one percent chance of staying. He has ruined my Palermo."
Maurizio, it wasn't Delio's fault. Sánchez was too good.
The next week against Cagliari, Alexis scored and created two goals in the space of 10 minutes.
What started off as an experiment to reboot Alexis' confidence ended up winning critical acclaim from the very same football experts who had lamented the move as gimmicky.
Two muscle injuries slowed down Sánchez's meteoric rise and he ended the season like he started—in frustration.
It still didn't stop Barça from splashing out an absurd amount on a player whose best position was occupied by a certain Lionel Andrés Messi.