Alexis Sanchez has been a revelation since his £35m (via Sky Sports) move from Barcelona this past summer, and has received plenty of praise from players and pundits alike.
Former Udinese teammate Antonio Di Natale recently gave an interview about the Chilean on Arsenal.com, and claims he knows the secret to Sanchez’s success at Arsenal.
Sanchez was bought by Udinese in 2006, but was farmed out on loan with Colo-Colo and River Plate. He arrived in 2008, where he linked up with Di Natale – the pair quickly becoming a dominant force in Serie A.
The 38-year-old had nothing but good things to say about his former teammate, insisting that not only was he one of the most talented players he had ever played with, but also that his incredible work-ethic ensured he stayed on top.
“I was amazed by his technical skills: he did things with the ball that were more typical of a juggler than a footballer. But what really impressed me was the approach he had to the everyday work,” the Italian striker said on Arsenal.com.
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“In my career, I’ve seen a lot of talented players squandering their abilities with the wrong attitude, with a sort of indolence. Alexis was the contrary: I’ve never seen him distracted, he was always attentive and focused, he was always ready to work harder in order to improve, to add some new trick to his natural talent.
“He was also interested in those aspects of the game that talented forwards often hate: the tactical aspects, the physical dimension, the way to help the midfielders and even the full-backs. This is probably his secret, and the thing that has allowed him to become one of the greatest players around today: he combines individual quality with a willingness for collective sacrifice.”
Di Natale is one of the most experienced forwards in the history of football, and has enjoyed years of success in Serie A. He was asked about the host of talented strike partners he had played with in the past, and had this to say about Sanchez.
“Stop: I know what you are going to ask. And the answer is: ‘Yes he’s the best partner I had in my life’. Like you say, I’ve played with a lot of champions, but he is the best; and he’s proven it by performing for enormous clubs such as Barcelona and Arsenal,” he continued.
“Alexis is able to do everything, he’s one of the most complete attackers in the world.”
The 26-year-old’s form has dipped slightly in the second half of the season, with his massive work-load in 2014 potentially causing him to burn out in the last few months.
He still offers a huge amount to the team however, even when he is not at his best. His work-rate and energy can be vital when applying a high pressing game, and his willingness to track back and put in a defensive shift really makes him the complete player.