Alexis Sanchez is maturing into one of the world’s best footballers, according to Chile coach Jorge Sampaoli.
The tournament hosts will bid to make it two wins from as many Group A matches when they tackle Mexico in Santiago on Monday, after opening the tournament with a thrilling 2-0 result over Ecuador.
Sanchez had the assist in Eduardo Vargas’ 84th-minute strike in Chile’s capital on Thursday, and Sampaoli said the Arsenal forward, 26, was putting his name in the conversation of being among the world’s best.
“I really see in Alexis as a much more mature and consolidated player, that knows he is one of the best in the world,” Sampaoli told a news conference.
“I also know he played a significant amount of minutes, he was not used to the continuity of English football. He makes an enormous effort in every training session and in every game.
“It’s [the Premier League’s] fullness and its features today, gives us a much more consolidated Alexis Sanchez, and he gives us that, from every place.
“Surely [you saw] the game with Ecuador, in the pass to Arturo [Vidal], was Alexis, in the pass to Eduardo, was Alexis, so it is crucial for us to have a player with those characteristics, beyond the minutes he had in the year, or the great bustle that he had.
“He is always committed to every training [session] and every moment.
“I do not think that today he has personal anxiety, he surely will have anxiety for the team.”
Mainz defender Gonzalo Jara said the concern opponents have for Sanchez’s capabilities is something Chile can exploit.
“Yes, obviously, for us as a team the collective issue is fundamental, the quality he [Sanchez] has as a player, and the ease in which he can get rid of the defenders, is fundamental also, and the desire that has always put at the service of the team, and that is also essential,” Jara said.
Jara said he did not want to talk up Chile’s title chances on home soil.
“Each of us as players, and also as part of a team, we really want to win something, but we have to be cautious,” the 29-year-old said.
“What we can say, or any commentary, when we talk about winning the Copa America, you know we have the desire and the conviction that we can do, but it’s not easy.
“I think I said the other day, for me, this is one of the most difficult Copa Americas.”
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