Joey Barton has hit out at Alexis Sanchez, claiming the Arsenal forward is not the final "piece of the jigsaw" and that he "failed" to prove himself against Barcelona, per Talksport (via Football365).
The north Londoners were downed 2-0 in the UEFA Champions League round-of-16 first leg at the Emirates Stadium on Tuesday, with a Lionel Messi brace putting the Catalan side in control of the tie.
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The Chile forward has failed to replicate last season's form this term due to a string of niggling injuries and tiredness following on from his summer exertion in his country's successful Copa America campaign, and he has scored 10 goals in 28 appearances in all competitions for Arsene Wenger's side.
Against his former club and tournament holders, Sanchez attempted just two shots on goal, both of which were blocked, and completed less than 69 percent of his passes, per Football365. And former England international Barton claims he always had his doubts over the 27-year-old's overall impact:
Alexis Sanchez, when he signed for Arsenal, I said a bit about him being slightly inconsistent.
Whilst everyone was getting carried away with him, I didn’t think he would be the piece in the jigsaw that took Arsenal on to be league champions – ironically this season they have a good chance of doing that.
We saw that last night, that was a prime opportunity on the elite-level stage – go and be a match-winner, show everybody that you are an elite-level match-winner and I think he failed to do that.
On the other side of the coin, Messi is a proven elite-level match-winner and he didn’t have his most flamboyant, his most exciting game but he did what the best in the world do.
Sanchez joined Arsenal in the summer of 2014 for a fee of £35 million after he failed to establish his position in Barcelona's star-studded line-up.
Energetic, direct, creative and with supreme ball-striking power, Sanchez immediately settled in the Premier League and went on to score 25 goals in his debut campaign, helping the club to seal their second successive FA Cup triumph as he netted in the final.
The Gunners have been boosted by their star player's recovery from injury; however, Sanchez is without a goal in the league since October.
If the Gunners are to chase down league leaders Leicester and city rivals Tottenham Hotspur to claim their first league title in over a decade, Sanchez will have to prove Barton wrong and find consistency and form quickly.