Alexis Alejandro Sánchez Sánchez, also known simply as Alexis, is a Chilean professional footballer who plays as a forward for the Chile national team. Sánchez began his career as a youth player for Cobreloa at age 17, completing a season at the club before relocating to Italy to play for Udinese in 2006. He won his first trophies in the following seasons, winning consecutive league titles in loans spells to Colo-Colo and River Plate. In 2008, he returned to Udinese, becoming an integral member of the team in his first full season at the club. After three fruitful seasons in Italy, Sánchez moved to Barcelona in a transfer worth €30 million (£25 million), becoming the most expensive Chilean player of all time. In his first season at Barcelona, Sánchez starred in an attacking trio alongside Lionel Messi and David Villa, helping the club win the Copa del Rey, Supercopa de España, UEFA Super Cup, and FIFA Club World Cup. The trio scored a total of 82 goals the following season, as the club won the 2012–13 La Liga, as well as retaining the Supercopa de España, before Sánchez enjoyed his highest scoring return at the Blaugrana, ending the season with a total of 21 goals, and 14 assists. Following the high-profile arrival of Neymar in 2013, Sánchez transferred to Premier League side Arsenal in a deal worth £31.7 million (€35.8 million) a year later. At Arsenal, Sánchez quickly established himself as the figurehead of the team, completing every season in England with double figures in both goals and assists. He also won the FA Community Shield, as well as the FA Cup on two occasions, scoring in both finals. In the 2016–17 season, Sánchez scored 30 goals and provided 14 assists, his best return as a professional footballer, while going onto being nominated for the FIFPro World XI. However, after lacking “inspiration” at the direction of the club, he signed for rivals Manchester United in a swap deal in 2018. Popularly dubbed “El Niño Maravilla” (The Wonder Child), Sánchez has been a full international for Chile since 2006, and has earned 121 caps, making him the team’s most capped player of all-time. With 39 goals, he is the country’s all-time leading goalscorer. He played in an instrumental role in allowing Chile to reach the final of the 2017 FIFA Confederations Cup, while further leading the side to their first international victory at the 2015 Copa América, scoring the winning penalty in the final against Argentina. He later contributed to a repeat of this triumph, aiding in the side’s retention of the trophy at the Copa América Centenario.
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On 20 July 2011, Barcelona confirmed they had agreed to a €26 million fee (including €11.5 million in certain bonuses) with Udinese for the transfer of Sánchez, becoming the first Chilean to play for the club. “Sánchez is very young,” said then-manager Pep Guardiola; “He can play in all three attacking positions, he shows intense defensive skills, he’s direct and from what I’ve been told, he’s a very nice kid.” The transfer was finalised five days later when he passed a medical and signed a five-year contract. “I want to learn from players like Lionel Messi and Xavi Hernández—and I want to help the club win more titles,” said Sánchez. Sánchez’s debut season for Barcelona was mired with short-term injuries. He made his debut on 14 August 2011 against archrivals Real Madrid in the 2011 Supercopa de España first leg away match, suffering a thigh injury after a challenge by Marcelo. Barcelona won the tie 5–4 on aggregate. He made his return two weeks later as a substitute in the 2011 UEFA Super Cup, won by Barca 2–0. Alexis then started the opening match of La Liga, at home against Villarreal, and scored his first goal in a 5–0 win. A week later, on 10 September, he was stretchered off after 30 minutes following a challenge from Dani Estrada in a domestic league match against Real Sociedad. Sánchez returned on 1 November in an away match against Viktoria Plzeň. On 10 December, he scored Barça’s equaliser against Real Madrid in a match they went on to win 1–3 away at the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium. On 14 February 2012, Sánchez scored the first and second UEFA Champions League goals of his career in Barcelona’s 3–1 victory against Bayer Leverkusen. In the 2012–13 campaign, on 2 October 2012 Sánchez scored the first goal for Barcelona in a 0–2 away win against Benfica. On 10 February 2013, then scored his first goal of the Liga season in Barça’s 6–1 home win against Getafe. From February onwards, Sánchez scored in matches against Deportivo de La Coruña, Mallorca, Athletic Bilbao, Real Betis, Atlético Madrid and Espanyol to end the season with eight league goals. Barcelona won the league title, ending the season with 100 points. On 26 October 2013, Sánchez scored the winning goal as Barça beat Real Madrid 2–1 at Camp Nou in the first Clásico fixture of the 2013–14 La Liga season. On 5 January 2014, Sánchez scored his first hat-trick for Barcelona in a 4–0 win against Elche. He ended the 2013–14 season with a career-high 21 goals in all competitions, including 19 in La Liga.
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Sánchez is a quick, creative and hard-working player with an eye for goal, who is known in particular for his energy, skill and work-rate on the pitch. Although naturally right-footed, due to his ability with either foot, he is capable of playing anywhere along the front line, on either flank, or through the centre of the pitch: throughout his career, he has been deployed as a supporting striker, as a winger, as a false-9, and even as an attacking midfielder; he has recently also been used in a more advanced, central role, as a main striker. A talented forward, Sánchez is gifted with excellent technical ability, agility, flair and acceleration, which enables him to dribble past opponents with feints in one on one situations, create space, and either score goals himself or set-up his teammates. Being an accurate striker of the ball, he is also effective from set-pieces. Sánchez had a statue erected in his honour within his native town of Tocopilla in March 2017.