Javier Mascherano believes Alexis Sanchez shares a number of traits with Barcelona teammate Luis Suarez, and has praised the Chilean ahead of our Champions League clash next week, as reported by The Independent.
Alexis has been phenomenal since arriving from Barcelona in 2014, with his debut campaign particularly superb. He’s been a key part of our setup ever since we signed him, not only contributing with goals, but with his general attitude and work-rate.
Mascherano highlighted the infectious nature of Alexis’ attitude, and he’s totally right. The 27-year-old inspires his teammates when he’s on the field, and brings a huge amount to the side.
“I think he delivered in the time he was here,” Mascherano said.
“He was very involved. Maybe he just needed the challenge of having a greater part to play in another team and that is why you can understand the change. But he gave us a lot in his three years.
“Now he has a huge role to play for them. He is crucial to what they do. He is someone whose aggression and attitude is infectious and runs through the team. He transmits so much.”
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With the likes of Lionel Messi in the side at Barcelona, Alexis was never going to be the headliner. And while he’s certainly capable of being a team player when he wants to be, he also thrives producing moments of magic all on his own.
At Arsenal he’s much more of a big fish, and while we’re certainly not a little pond by any means, Alexis is unquestionably a game changer for us.
Mascherano was also asked about similarities between Alexis and Suarez, and suggested the pair’s work-rate means they bring something to the team even when not at their best.
“Yes. Totally there is a touch of Suarez,” he continued.
“He is a fighter. A player who never gives up a single ball for lost. Someone who regardless of how he plays is always going to give absolutely everything. And that is fundamental for any team.”
As stated, it’s not just Alexis’ goals that make him so invaluable. Even when he’s out of form he still gives 110%, and is a constant threat who occupies multiple defenders at the same time.
It is unfortunate that he’s been struggling for goals recently, as we badly need our best players in top form. Hopefully a game against his former club ignites something inside him and helps him find his shooting boots.
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Being drawn against Barcelona in the last 16 is certainly disappointing, as we couldn’t really have gotten anybody worse. A win over two legs isn’t out of the question though, and if we can navigate our way past the Catalan giants then we’ll take a huge confidence boost into future games and be one massive step closer to the Champions League final.