Barcelona forward Alexis Sanchez has allegedly criticised the academies of Manchester United and Arsenal, claiming "everything is just given" to youth prospects in England, according to reports.
The Chilean star—who is currently preparing to face the Three Lions at Wembley on Nov. 15—supposedly ridiculed the national setup for giving players a cushy route into football, although the player and his agent denied comments attributed to him, per Gordon Tynan of The Independent.
Here are the quotes in question, reported by Simon Yeend of the Express:
We are a tougher team than England. The problem for teams like England is that everything is so easy for them. They join these academies at maybe 10 or 11 years old and everything is done for them.
Sanchez appeared to suggest his difficult upbringing made him a better player and that he wouldn’t have received other opportunities for success if he failed to become a professional footballer, unlike his English counterparts:
I used to wash cars for such little money just so I had enough money to buy my football boots. When you are at academies like Manchester United and Arsenal then everything is just given to you.
My family was so poor that football for me was about survival. I told my mother from a young age, 'Don’t worry, I will become a football player and get us out of this situation.'
If I had failed I would be working 15-hour days on construction sites and still not be earning enough to live. Football saved me, and I don’t think any England players could say that.
Sanchez’s reported attack on his next opponents overlooks the Premier League’s reputation as a relentlessly physical division and pinpoints mental deficiencies in the nation’s game.
If the comments are true, he doesn’t appear to be saying English players lack power or physicality but instead suggests an easier upbringing fails to develop the capacity to deal with difficult situations on the pitch.
The pacy player may even nod toward huge salaries for young English players, such as Jack Wilshere's alleged £80,000-per-week contract at Arsenal, reported by Rob Draper of the Daily Mail.
Sanchez’s career is defined by his determination to overcome stronger opponents with agility and speed, something the 5'7" forward has been doing in abundance this season.
As reported by WhoScored.com, the former Udinese player has seven goals and two assists in nine La Liga appearances for Barca this season, significantly aiding La Blaugrana’s cause in the absence of Lionel Messi.
He doesn’t believe England can win the World Cup, suggesting Spain and Germany are the only non-South American teams who can challenge in Brazil, per Yeend’s report.
While many English representatives will agree with this, the country's recent World Cup qualifying wins against Montenegro and Poland have galvanised realistic spirits across the nation.
Sanchez is set to play a leading role during the upcoming international fixture. His comments are remarkably honest and sum up the grit and determination of Jorge Sampaoli's side rather succinctly.
Roy Hodgson's men are likely to dismiss the verbal assault with little trouble, but should England fail to perform under the Wembley lights, Sanchez and Chile can do real damage with their exciting offensive style of play.