Barcelona have reportedly neared the sale of Alexis Sanchez to Arsenal for a fee of 38 million euros. While numbers vary according to sources, it is believed the Chilean forward has been offered a four-year deal with the Gunners reportedly worth in the region of 8 million euros per season.
It is undeniable that Sanchez's reputation has definitely increased after his stellar performances for Chile in the 2014 World Cup. His enthusiastic dynamism, relentless determination and ability to lead his nation's attack have attracted the interest of not only Arsenal, but also other major European clubs such as Liverpool and Juventus. Despite having refused a move away from the Camp Nou in the past, it is clear that his departure at this time will benefit both Barcelona and the player himself.
Based on his stellar performances while on international duty, many are wondering why the Blaugrana would even consider the sale of a player of Sanchez's skills and ultra-professional attitude. At just 25 years of age, it is undeniable that he has the potential to become an even better player if given the right guidance, confidence and increased responsibility.
Sanchez has managed to score 47 goals and give 34 assists in 141 appearances for Barcelona over the last three years. If we consider the fact that the Catalans have found the net a total of 496 times since the Chilean joined the squad in 2011, it is clear that his overall contribution in that period, while not terrible, is not necessarily impressive either. To be totally honest, Cules expected a better return from a forward who cost the club 38 million euros and was given countless opportunities to show his worth next to players of the calibre of Andres Iniesta, Xavi Hernandez and Cesc Fabregas.
Despite his individual stats, Catalan supporters will always remember Sanchez as a courageous player who tried his best for the overall benefit of the team, someone who was always prepared to work tirelessly to allow others to shine. Sure, his poor shooting accuracy and obvious confidence dips did frustrate fans occasionally, but at the same time his professionalism and eagerness to do well must also be highlighted. Sanchez's endless runs with and without the ball (especially defensively when dispossessed) definitely gave the team a remarkable degree of balance by both generating or reducing spaces when needed.
Unfortunately for Sanchez, however, the bottom line is that he never truly performed at the level most expected given his considerable price tag and the amount of playing time his coaches granted him while at the Camp Nou.
The 38 million euros that Arsenal are reportedly going to pay for Sanchez will definitely help Barcelona sign his replacement, most likely Luis Suarez from Liverpool. While regular readers know I have considered the signing of a central defender as the board's main priority for far too many years, it is undeniable that adding a player with the Uruguayan's proven goal-scoring record will instantly boost the team's attack -- 61 goals in his past 81 appearances for the Reds speaks for itself, to be honest.
Barcelona have made Lionel Messi the key point of their new project, and rightly so. Having the best player in the world is certainly a blessing, and with that in mind, it is obvious that the club must do everything within their power to build a team around their star player that enables him to maximise his talents. At the same time, however, his influence is such that teammates have to adapt their own game in order to fit within such a tailor-made system, sacrificing some of their individual impact as a result. And there, in a nutshell, is the key to Suarez's success: His ability and eagerness to adapt his game to suit both his new club and a striking partner of Messi's stature.
Obviously, many Cules feel that a player who has repeatedly bitten and racially insulted other professionals doesn't belong at a club that has proudly boasted their "More than a club" motto since 1968.
Personally, I can clearly see where their concerns are coming from, but at the same time also believe that the Barca board must always do their utmost to bring the very best footballers to the Camp Nou. While I understand it is a very fine line, ultimately it is the player's quality, drive and ambition that must be prioritised. Plus, club legends such as Hristo Stoichkov, Migueli or even new manager Luis Enrique himself also let their emotions get the better of them at times as players.
Here is hoping that Sanchez enjoys the very best in his professional future as, undoubtedly, he deserves all the success that is surely to come his way. As for Suarez, I sincerely hope that he can overcome the adverse situation he has single-handedly created and focus on what he does best: scoring plenty of goals whenever he jumps on a football pitch.