The transfer appears on the face of it to be the perfect transfer, the Spanish and European champions strengthening their side with one of the brightest prospects in football. But can Alexis Sanchez develop and star in a team that already includes so many talented individuals?
The former Udinese man has not joined the Catalan side dreaming of playing in 8-0 thrashings of lowly La Liga sides such as Levante and Granada. Sanchez will have a burning desire to play in El Clasico against fierce rivals Real Madrid, and be heavily involved in a successful European campaign, which could very well end in yet another Champions Leagyue triumph this season.
But the Chilean may not find himself a walk-up starter to these matches, not with the considerable amount of talent already at manager Pep Guardiola’s disposal.
Sanchez is effectively competing against David Villa and Pedro for a starting berth in Guardiola’s line-up. But Sanchez won’t even be alone in competing for that role, with the highly talented Dutch youngster Ibrahim Affelay also vying for a position in the first eleven.
Naturally there will be injuries to the key trio of Lionel Messi, Xavi and Andres Iniesta, but for the time being at least, Sanchez may not be able to force himself into the first team for the big matches that he aspires to play in.
Sanchez’s biggest test this term will be his adaptation to La Liga and to his new surrounds at Barcelona. At just 22 years of age, patience and a willingness to learn will be more important for Barcelona’s new number nine, rather than simply his ability on the football pitch. Players that are gifted, but can’t adapt to the Barcelona culture, do not last long at the club. Just ask AC Milan’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
With all the hype and the massive transfer fee surrounding the player, fans also need to temper their expectations slightly of this player. Comparisons to Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo are not without merit, but the Chilean is extremely unlikely to match Ronaldo’s phenomenal goal scoring record of 40 goals in a season, in his debut campaign with the club.
The scary thing for all football fans regarding this transfer does not concern what Sanchez will do at Barcelona this season, but what he will be able to do in the coming years.
Barcelona are already possibly the greatest football side to have ever graced the planet, trophies are sitting there just waiting to have their name etched on them this season.
The signing of this young Chilean star would honestly be nothing more than excessive if football was only going to last for one more season. What signing Sanchez this season does, is it allows Barcelona to take him into their fold and embed him into the amazing club ethos that surrounds the Catalan side.
The future is terrifyingly bright for this young starlet, but it will be hard for Sanchez to accept that his time might not be this season. If he can take the challenges of Barcelona in his stride, then there will be no doubt that Sanchez will become one of the best football players in the world over the five to 10 years.
Will Chile’s Alexis Sanchez be a success at Barcelona?