Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez ready for biggest challenge yet
Chile attacker (25) looking forward to ‘making the fans very happy’ after move from Barcelona
Striker Alexis Sanchez has joined Arsenal from Baracelona. Photograph: Peter Byrne/PA Wire
Alexis Sanchez is ready to tackle the biggest challenge of his football career head on by helping fire Arsenal to success next season.
The Chile international agreed to sign for the Gunners from Barcelona on Thursday, in a deal reported to be worth in the region of €35 million.
Sanchez is set for some time on holiday following his World Cup exploits, where he scored twice as Chile reached the last 16 before being beaten on penalties by Brazil. But the 25-year-old cannot wait to link up with the likes of club-record signing Mesut Özil — one of three Arsenal players set to represent Germany in Sunday’s World Cup final against Argentina in Rio — as the Gunners look to build on their FA Cup triumph.
“I feel that playing in England will be perhaps the most challenging step I have ever taken in my football career. There are plenty of competitive teams in the league and I will do my best sincerely to win as much as possible,” Sanchez said on the club’s official website, www.arsenal.com. “I always liked English football and of course I enjoyed watching it. Having played in Italy, Spain or Argentina, it’s taught me a lot about those countries footballers and people too. I am in England now and my aim is to keep learning.
“I will adapt as the time goes by. I just want to play football and ultimately enjoy myself on the pitch. Ultimately I have come to Arsenal to win everything possible with the help of my team-mates. I look forward to making the fans very happy.”
As well as Gunners’ fans revelling in the club’s latest acquisition, the players have been quick to herald Sanchez’s arrival.
Wales midfielder Aaron Ramsey is one of the team already back at pre-season training and is in no doubt of the quality the Chile forward will bring to an already formidable attacking line-up.
“We all know about his qualities — he’s quick, he can get in behind and dribble with the ball so he’ll certainly slot in with ease,” Ramsey said on Sky Sports News. “He’s a fantastic talent. He’s proven it at Barcelona, and at the World Cup he was Chile’s main player. It’s a great signing for us and he’ll certainly add quality to the team and bring his own style. We’re all looking forward to working with him.”
Closing a deal for Sanchez — who also had interest from Liverpool and Juventus - was down in no small part to the influence of Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger. The former Monaco boss is understood to have spoken to the player face to face while working for French television at the World Cup in Brazil, convincing him the Emirates Stadium was the right place to further his career.
The 25-year-old attacking midfielder, said to have also taken counsel from former Arsenal captain and Barcelona team-mate Cesc Fabregas, who has signed for Chelsea, is in no doubt he will be given the perfect environment in which to flourish.
Wenger will return to Arsenal’s Hertfordshire base after Sunday’s World Cup final, ahead of a trip to New York at the end of the month.
Arsenal host the Emirates Cup on August 2nd/3rd, which is likely to present a debut for Sanchez, who has no doubts about being able to settle into the English game.
“The most important thing is to be calm and not to rush things. Everything will be fine as long as I take it easy and calm down, But I am also looking forward to showing why I am here.”
Arsenal are expected to further bolster their squad ahead of the FA Community Shield against Manchester City on August 10th.
France defender Mathieu Debuchy is keen to move from Newcastle, who want to secure a replacement before closing out the €12 million transfer, with Atletico Madrid right-back Javier Manquillo another reported target.
A defensive midfielder is also on Wenger’s wanted list. Arsenal have been linked with Germany internationals Lars Bender and Sami Khedira. Egypt international centre-back Ahmed Fathi, meanwhile, has travelled to London for a trial at Arsenal, the defender’s club Al Ahly announced.