Alexis Sanchez: Reasons for and Against Barcelona Selling Him This Summer
There's a new buzzword circulating in the press of Spain, England and Italy: Alexis Sanchez.
Not a day goes by when we don't hear people saying how ideal he'd be at Inter Milan, that Arsenal will miss out on him to Juventus or that Manchester City and even Man United have fixed their sites on the Chilean international (via The Mirror and The Express).
A lot of it is, of course, rubbish. But there is too much of it circulating to suggest there isn't some dodgy agent, in some part of Europe, trying his best to earn himself some money by moving on a player struggling for form and consistency in the Barcelona team.
It's probably fair to say that some Barca fans are probably more than accepting of the fact he could leave this summer, but what are the reasons for and against his possible sale?
Imagine these next sides as the angel and devil caricatures popping out of the metaphorical head of FC Barcelona as they try to decide what is for the best.
For: He's Not a Regular Starter
In 31 La Liga games this season, Alexis Sanchez has only started 14 matches for Barcelona—he's come on as a substitute a further nine times.
When the big games come around, he's often found wanting—although he was handed a full 90 minutes in Paris recently—and that doesn't look set to change.
Tito Vilanova has switched from a favored front three of Pedro Rodriguez, Lionel Messi and Andres Iniesta to one of Pedro, Messi and David Villa.
Neither, obviously, include Alexis.
With Cristian Tello improving rapidly in the last few months, Isaac Cuenca set to return from a loan spell at Ajax and Gerard Deulofeu to be promoted to the first team next season, is it worth keeping Alexis around as a bit-part player?
Against: The Best Could Be Yet to Come
It's unlikely that he has become a bad player overnight. In his final season at Udinese—albeit in a more central position eventually—he sparkled in a way which had most clubs in Europe keen to draw his affections.
Barcelona won the race to sign him and his first season in Catalonia, which was disrupted by injury, was far from catastrophic. He contributed 15 goals and six assists in his 40 appearances from a wide position.
His recent one-goal performance (with one assist) against Deportivo La Coruna and two-goal performance (with two assists) against Mallorca at Camp Nou suggest the best is still to come.
He doesn't turn 25 until the end of this year, age is certainly on his side, and La Blaugrana may regret allowing him to leave and then having to watch him play out his best years for clubs in either England or Italy.
For: His Confidence Often Looks Shattered
It's all well and good occasionally turning in your Sunday best against teams struggling at the wrong end of the table, but so often this season Alexis has looked bereft of confidence.
So many times this season his runs have been clever, or his movement astute, and then—with time to think—he's choked when it came to the decision making.
A game against Granada springs to mind. On more than one occasion, he found himself with the chance to shoot. Instead, he hesitated and eventually lost the ball.
This is summed up in the fact he's only averaged one shot and less than one cross per match (via WhoScored.com). There seems to be panic that sets in when he has the opportunity to deliver, and that can only be down to his lack of confidence.
A fresh start may be the only way to restore what's missing.
Against: It's a Lot of Money to Give Up on
There isn't a concrete figure to place on the head of Alexis Sanchez, but it's thought that Barcelona paid around €26 million for him with a further €11 million due depending on performances.
If it ends up being somewhere close to €37 million, it will make the 24-year-old the third most expensive signing in the club's history—after David Villa and Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
That's a lot of money to give up on and they're unlikely to recoup all of it from selling this summer.
He has a contract until 2016, so giving him a third season while he remains relatively young is highly unlikely to see his sell-on value drop.
It's unclear how ready Tello, Cuenca and Deulofeu will be next season—although the former is looking particularly encouraging of late—so it wouldn't be a bad thing to keep an evidently talented player like Alexis around.