Is there any player in world football that has seen their stock plummet as fast as Alexis Sanchez over the past eight months?
Swapping the Emirates for Old Trafford back in January, many thought the 29-year-old would be the man to bolster Manchester United’s title push.
Opting to reject Pep Guardiola to team up with Jose Mourinho, United getting one over on their old rivals seemed like an impressive coup.
With United desperate to replicate the attacking identity they embodied under Sir Alex Ferguson, Sanchez was thought to be the missing spark.
However, here we are in September and the former Barcelona man looks a shell of the player who graced North London.
Exactly eight months on from the day his arrival in Manchester was announced, Sanchez had another afternoon to forget at Old Trafford.
Now scoring just twice in his last 17 Premier League appearances, what’s going wrong for Alexis Sanchez?
Brief glimpses in pre-season
While some of the Premier League’s biggest stars were returning late from World Cup duty, Sanchez was one of just a handful who enjoyed a full pre-season.
Aside from a minor issue with his visa that delayed his arrival, Sanchez had the air of a player looking to prove a point during United’s tour of the States.
Finding that childlike enthusiasm that he has shown throughout his career, Sanchez appeared to be relishing the absence of Paul Pogba and Romelu Lukaku.
Working in a 3-4-2-1, he was deployed as the man to spearhead their attack and was finally given a fraction of the freedom he was hoping for.
Scoring in both his opening games, United, ever so briefly, thought they could get the same player who scored 80 goals in 166 games for Arsenal.
🗣 “I can’t remember the last time I had a break and a long vacation. It served me well to rest, to clear my head a little bit and get stronger for the season. I’m already off to a great start. It’s been years since I’ve had a pre-season like this one.”
– Alexis Sánchez. 💪🔴 pic.twitter.com/TxXOYo3P5o
— Football Tweet (@Football__Tweet) August 10, 2018
However, as Lukaku returned and took back the number nine role Sanchez had been keeping warm, any signs of a resurge quickly faded.
In a way, his pre-season tour almost epitomises Sanchez’s short tenure at Old Trafford.
Something that started so brightly, similar to his debut for United back in January when he picked up two assists and the Man of the Match award against Yeovil in the FA Cup.
However, as the level of opposition increases, Sanchez’s impact tends to decrease.
Is Mourinho’s patience wearing thin?
Although Mourinho remained firm that he would pick Sanchez ahead of Anthony Martial on Saturday, his summer recruit once again flattered to deceive.
Gaining an assist against Burnley in what is becoming an incredibly rare positive moment, Mourinho and United would have hoped that was the start of better things to come.
However, shipped off against newly promoted Wolves on the hour mark, it was another afternoon in red he will want to forget.
Mustering just one shot on goal and losing possession 16 times, he also held the worst pass accuracy of any Manchester United player with 69.7%.
In desperate need of a winner, his bosses decision to replace him with Juan Mata is a clear indication in the lack of trust he has.
Alexis Sánchez has now gone 831 minutes without scoring a Premier League goal.
Can’t catch a break. pic.twitter.com/Cg1WbDTOf0
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) September 22, 2018
Sanchez has now not completed 90 minutes under Mourinho since August 10th.
Although he didn’t put the blame on Sanchez’s shoulders, he did take the time to namecheck Sanchez in his post-match analysis with Sky Sports.
“I could say tired, Champions League, awful pitch, the body suffers a different impact than a match on natural grass.
“I could go in this direction but we had Lingard and Alexis. They didn’t play.
“We did not have a team that was in big trouble with the accumulation of matches.”
Sanchez did not feature for United in their 3-0 win against Young Boys last week.
Lack of freedom?
While Arsenal were far from there best at the end of Arsene Wenger’s reign, the Frenchman never moved from his attacking philosophy.
In a side that promised to offer Sanchez chances, the 29-year-old does not have that luxury under Mourinho.
While Wenger was happy to offer him freedom, his new boss will not alter his tactics for the benefits of one man.
Even though United’s 4-3-3 appears like an attacking formation, Mourinho is renowned for his defensive stance.
This is once again highlighted by the fact that no team in the top nine have scored fewer goals than United.
Unlike his time in London, Sanchez will not have chances just carved out for him.
With so much focus on the lack of minutes Marcus Rashford is receiving, Sanchez’s continued poor form is certainly giving Mourinho an unwanted headache.
Even with a contract worth £450,000 per week, the calls for change are getting increasingly louder around the Stretford End.
The man behind the worrying stats
With Mourinho the methodical tactician that he has always been, there is no doubt he will be taking note of the worrying stats Sanchez is producing.
It is in the numbers where you see how rapidly their biggest earner has fallen.
Now without a Premier League goal since a 2-0 win over Swansea in March, this is by some distance the longest drought in the 121-time Chilean internationals career.
Alexis Sanchez for Barcelona:
⏱Averaged a league goal every 148 minutes.
Alexis Sanchez for Arsenal:
⏱Averaged a league goal every 161 minutes.
Alexis Sanchez for Manchester United:
⏱Averaged a league goal every 693 minutes. pic.twitter.com/n4XXLcAqmI
— EPL Bible (@EPLBible) September 22, 2018
Mourinho will be the first to know that if United are to mount a shock title push.
He needs someone who can help Romelu Lukaku with carrying the bulk of their goals.
However, week by week, it is looking more like that Sanchez is not that man.
In fact, he has now managed just 2.4 shots at goal so far this season.
While many will argue that areas such as interceptions and tackles have increased, are these really the areas you want to see Sanchez improving on?
In a team as reliant on keeping possession as Manchester United are, the winger has become increasingly detrimental to his bossess tactics.
Since his arrival back in January, Sanchez has been dispossessed 347.
Only three outfield players in the Premier League have lost the ball more.
After making such a deal to beat their arch-rivals to his signature, maybe Guardiola will be considering this a lucky escape?