Alexis Sanchez’s indomitable spirit will again be on show to his suitors, if the Arsenal forward features in Chile’s opening Confederations Cup game against Cameroon on Sunday.
He is a doubt for the game in Moscow due to an ankle sprain, but knowing the player it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him involved at some stage in the 45,000 capacity Otkrytiye Arena.
That willingness to play through the pain barrier, which has endeared the Arsenal talisman to so many of the club’s fans, has also helped to make him a wanted man among Europe’s elite this summer.
From Paris Saint-Germain to Bayern Munich, and Chelsea to Manchester City, the list of clubs who have made enquiries, and continue to pursue the versatile forward, has prompted a transfer tussle and, if he doesn’t sign a new contract sooner rather than later, Arsenal risk losing their best player on a free transfer next year.
An impressive return of 30 goals in 51 appearances for Alexis last season merely emphasised how much of an asset he has become for Arsene Wenger’s side since arriving in north London three years ago from Barcelona.
He has yet to master the English language but it is said that Alexis enjoys living in the capital, where he regularly walks his dogs Atom and Humber on the leafy surroundings of Hampstead Heath. His pets have become synonymous with the relaxed persona that Alexis gives off on social media and the Celine Dion backing tracks have turned his various dog-crazy images into memes among both Arsenal and wider football fans.
Regardless of what is happening off the pitch for Alexis, the circumstances on it will have an equal amount of influence on his future. He has previously stated that he wants to be playing for ‘a winning team in a big city’ and, while a third FA Cup success in four years for Arsenal remains a notable achievement, there can be no papering over the cracks of a disappointing domestic and European campaign.
A season without Champions League football will be unfamiliar for a player and club accustomed to playing in Europe’s premier competition, and it remains to be seen whether Alexis is prepared to drop down a level at the peak of his career.
Sanchez’s agent is Fernando Felicevich, who also represents Bayern Munich midfielder Arturo Vidal - a compatriot that Alexis has known for over a decade. All clubs have been informed by Arsenal officials that the player is not for sale but that could change if he decides to hand in a transfer request this summer.
Wage demands are not said to be the biggest influence in his final decision but the likes of PSG and City are prepared to offer in excess of the £250,000-a-week which Alexis is looking for.
"I'm looking at what my agent is doing,” said the 28-year-old. “For now, I'm focused on the Confederations Cup in Russia and trying to do well.
"The truth is that my agent will see to it. He knows and he will sit down with the club to look for the best option for me. I'd like a lot of things but I'm only thinking about the national team.”
Chile coach Juan Antonio Pizzi says his staff are “optimistic from the images we’ve seen, but we understand and know that the player still feels pain, and that’s why we’ll wait until tomorrow to decide if he plays”. If you needed any idea of El Nino Maravilla’s character, then that quote provides the perfect example of the work ethic and strength of character that so many clubs look for when they scout players.
The transfer window edges closer to officially opening and Alexis remains one of the most sought-after players in world football right now. All eyes will be on the Chile line-up to see if he starts on Sunday and you can guarantee a host of top European clubs will be among those watching.