Alexis Sanchez may very well be the comeback story of the season. After a severely disappointing year last season, the Chilean has become one of Barcelona's most consistent and important players.
His latest three-goal masterpiece against Elche on Sunday was yet another indicator of what he can really do.
Fans were ready to give up on the 25-year-old last year, which made logical sense. However, Barcelona refused to give up hope in Sanchez, who has since repaid the club with spectacular performances.
But just what has happened for the Chilean to find this incredible form? Let's take a look at the five reasons why Sanchez is a completely different player today.
* All statistics are courtesy of WhoScored.com
Every player needs competition to be successful. It is hard to find a great player in today's game who doesn't have someone else pushing him to be even better. Such is the case with Alexis Sanchez.
This season the Chilean has had to compete with Neymar, Pedro and Cristian Tello for a starting spot. It is safe to say that the competition has brought out the best in Sanchez.
In fact, Sanchez has seemed to put on his best displays when Pedro has been on the field at the same time.
The 25-year-old knows that he has to fight hard to keep his place in the starting lineup. A dip in form would likely see him relegated to the bench, and thus Sanchez has done everything needed to keep that starting role.
It seems as though the best of Sanchez has been brought out when you least expect it. The negative outlook by fans brought on a great end to last season, and he has simply picked up where he left off.
With Messi now back in the squad, competition will be even tougher, which could lead to fans seeing an even better side of Alexis Sanchez.
Another thing that has played a major role in Alexis Sanchez finding his best form is that he is now comfortable and familiar with his surroundings at Barcelona.
This is his third season at the Catalan club, and the learning curve is now gone. Sanchez knows what is expected of him and what being a player for Barcelona means. He has since responded well.
At the same time, Sanchez was shown love by the club when they refused to give up on him. Barcelona could have cashed in on the Chilean last summer, but they continued to show Sanchez that they believed in him.
With Sanchez feeling that his place at Barcelona was safe, he could simply focus on playing football. The external rumors and conflicts would not bother him as he knew what the club thought.
Being comfortable is something every player needs. Sanchez has looked happier than ever this year, and one has to suspect that it has more to do with just his on-field activities. Sanchez is happy.
Last year was tough for every winger at Barcelona as former manager Tito Vilanova struggled to find his best lineup. Andres Iniesta, David Villa, Pedro, Sanchez and Cristian Tello all played significantly on the wings, and it was often hard to determine who was the first option.
This year, that isn't the case. Alexis Sanchez has been a starter since day one, and that consistency of being on the pitch in the same position in most games has allowed him to find his rhythm.
Every player must have the chance to play often in similar positions to get a good feel of what to do. Sanchez's role was often changing last year, and that affected him and others in a big way.
The Chilean now knows that when his name is called—and it will be called often—that he will be on the right wing, and he knows exactly what that means for him as a player.
Sanchez now has the opportunity to make the right wing his all the more. With continued stellar play in the starting lineup, you can bet that Sanchez will see even more minutes, which can only be good for his ever-improving form.
Everyone had to see this one coming. Above all else, Alexis Sanchez is playing with confidence, and that has make the biggest difference.
Last season, you could see the worry on his face. Sanchez gave everything he had on the pitch, but nothing seemed to go his way, and it affected him. It was easy to get discouraged, and it was clear that it was slowly happening.
However, as the end of the season came closer, Sanchez began to score a few goals, and his confidence immediately went up. Then when the new season started, he was able to add even more confidence with every match.
Success has brought Sanchez the confidence he needed to break out of his shell and be the player that he has always showed that he could be. It is confidence that he needed the whole time, and now he has it.
Watching him play now, it is quite clear that he believes in himself. He isn't afraid to take chances and knows he can impact every game he is a part of. Sanchez now knows how good he can really be, and nothing is holding it back.
If you want one reason why Sanchez is playing the way he is now, it all comes down to confidence.
Alexis Sanchez has managed to score 11 goals this season while also giving four assists. It isn't a fluke: Sanchez is here to stay, and everything points to continued success for the Chilean.
Throughout this article, we have already looked at four things that have brought out the best in Sanchez, and they all have something in common. He now has a defined role at Barcelona.
In his first two years at the Catalan club, what was his role? It was honestly hard to define, as he was a rotational player who scored rarely and was actually more of a defensive winger than an offensive one.
Yet under Tata Martino, he has been given a very clear role within the squad, which has allowed Sanchez to play successful football. When Sanchez steps on the pitch in any match, you knows exactly what he is going to be doing throughout the game.
It is this defining him as a player that helped Sanchez break free from last season. He has been put in the right spot and given the best opportunity to make the most of his individual talents, and Barcelona is reaping the rewards.
All of these things have culminated into Alexis Sanchez finding his best form ever as a Barcelona player. The Chilean is in the perfect position to continue improving, and you can bet that he will do just that.
It is no fluke, nor is it just a simple rise in form. Alexis Sanchez has finally arrived at Barcelona, and he is here to stay.
Why do you think Sanchez has found such good form this season? Can he continue this form? Leave your thoughts and comments below!