Alexis restricted at Barcelona - Sampaoli

The forward has been one of Chile's star men at the World Cup, but his coach fears the abundance of attacking talent at his club could put the brakes on his progress
By Ben Hayward in Belo Horizonte

Chile coach Jorge Sampaoli says Alexis Sanchez can be one of the world's best players - but believes he may be restricted by the likes of Lionel Messi and Neymar at Barcelona.

The 25-year-old has been Chile's shining star for a number of years now, but has struggled at times since moving to the Catalan club in 2011.

"With Chile, Alexis knows he is a decisive player," Sampaoli said ahead of his side's last-16 clash with Brazil on Saturday. "He is very highly thought of - a superlative player.

"But perhaps at Barcelona, with the team-mates he has and all the great players there, it is more difficult. But for me he has all the conditions to be one of the best players in the world: assists, goals, dribbles, everything...

"He can still get much better than he is at the moment and he'll be one of the key players in club and international football over the coming years."

Alexis made his Chile debut in 2006 and has scored 23 goals in 69 appearances for his country.