"Alexis Sanchez to Inter is a gamble that both parties could win comfortably.” These were the words of Udinese legend and former team-mate of Alexis Sanchez, Antonio Di Natale. The former Azzurri hitman had a point, when you analyse the terms that will see the Chilean arrive in Milan, one has to think it is a steal. The agreement is a risk-free one for Antonio Conte and could, in turn, see the rebirth of a superlative talent that could light up Serie A.
The deal is reportedly a free loan with an option to buy at the end of the campaign for around €12-15m. The more baffling part is that the Nerazzurri will only pay for €4m of his salary. When he earns approximately €14m, this seems ludicrous, as his parent club will be funding the rest. If this punt was on betting.com, it’d count as a free bet. Inter are certainly not one to look this particular gift horse in the mouth and it is believed that if they triggered the move at the end of the campaign, his new wage would be €6.5m.
Admittedly his time at the Premier League club was not a successful one, but this was largely down to tiredness and injuries. The very physical nature of the English game probably didn’t suit his talents either and the hefty price-tag put undue pressure on him in a fairly dysfunctional team.
Antonio Conte is a man who could get the best out of Alexis. It was no secret that, like Romelu Lukaku, Sanchez was a man who Conte wanted when at Juventus. His work ethic and his ability to follow instruction were exactly what the Coach looks for and his natural talent in front of goal is without question.
His ability to excel in a 3-5-2 was clear at Udinese and it will be a chance for him to play with a strike partner, which will mean that he can be provider or goal-scorer. His movement would complement that of Lautaro Martinez, who also has an ability to play off the defender’s shoulder, whilst his strong rapport with Lukaku already exists both on and off the field.
There is the question of his fitness. The throwback to this is whether he would even start, as Lautaro Martinez and Lukaku are the younger and more promising partnership. At Inter he will have the opportunity, if needed, to get back to fitness in his own time and slowly integrate into the squad. It’s precious respite for a man who has played every summer with his national team it seems since time began. Alexis may initially take up a new role, coming off the bench when his team are struggling. He is certainly able to turn a game on his own, just ask Arsene Wenger.
There will be nay-sayers, those who think that he no longer has the fitness, the mentality or even the ability, but what have Inter got to lose? He is free, they pay little towards his wages and he doesn’t need to start.
This season is a test to see if he can recapture some of his best form in a league he enjoys and has proved himself in before. He is also not being asked to carry the team like at Arsenal, or in fact be the big money signing with all the expectation like in Manchester. Instead Sanchez is asked to be an icing on the cake, work hard and play his part.
Things didn’t work for Alexis in Manchester, but he will see this as a huge opportunity to prove to himself and others that his career is still somewhere near its peak. It is the battle Sanchez will have with himself that will be of benefit to Inter. If it fails, the Nerazzurri lose little, if it succeeds then they have a steal.