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'Alexis Sanchez can still be very important for Man Utd' - Chile star backed by former coach Pizzi

09:43 BST 28/04/2020
Alexis Sanchez Manchester United 2018-19
The forward is currently on loan at Inter, but has endured a difficult couple of years since leaving Arsenal

Alexis Sanchez still has the potential to be a key player for Manchester United, according to the forward’s former Chile coach Juan Antonio Pizzi.

The 31-year-old joined United in January 2018 from Arsenal in a swap deal involving Henrikh Mkhitaryan, but he has been unable to make a sustained impact at Old Trafford.

He scored just three goals in 32 Premier League appearances before being allowed to join Inter on a season-long loan deal last summer.

Sanchez has similarly struggled at San Siro and he spent three months out of action after undergoing ankle surgery, while his only Serie A goal against Sampdoria was followed by a red card in the same match.

But Pizzi, who coached Sanchez and Chile to Copa America success in 2016, believes the die is not yet cast on the attacker’s United career, if he can rediscover the form he displayed during his successful period at Arsenal.

“Alexis was in a perfect place at Arsenal and suddenly he changes city, coach, team-mates, fans [by joining Manchester United] ... sometimes that adaptation happens quickly, sometimes it takes longer,” Pizzi told The Guardian.

“In Alexis’s case, I think it took too long. He didn’t seem to be able to connect and emotionally he dropped. The consequences of that state of mind were translated in his performances.

“I don’t know what destiny holds for him but I think this experience in Italy, away from English football, might be good for him. I really hope so.

“I’m sure that if he can find tranquillity and his form, he’ll be very important for United.”

Current Chile coach Reinaldo Rueda recently expressed his belief that Sanchez still has the ability to perform at the highest level.

"It has been a traumatic, very tortuous year for him. Ever since his departure from Arsenal and his first year at Manchester United," Rueda told Sport.

"He came to the Copa America in Brazil and then had that bad luck with the injury in the friendly against Colombia in Alicante. That loan to Inter was almost thwarted and when he recovered the pandemic came.

"I expect all this to pass quickly because he's a great professional, has a great attitude in training and will maintain a high standing for any club that gives him a chance. He's got a lot of football yet to show at the top level."

Meanwhile, back in January, United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer did not rule out Sanchez fulfilling the remaining two years of his contract with the Premier League club.

Solskjaer said: "Alexis will come back in the summer and will prove youse all wrong."