Gary Neville has questioned whether Alexis Sanchez can regain the form that he showed at Arsenal, or indeed adapt his game.
Sanchez made the heavily publicised move from Arsenal to Manchester United last January, as United fans wait for someone to finally become a worthy successor to Cristiano Ronaldo in the prestigious number 7 shirt.
However, it has been a dreadful 12 months for the Chilean, who has looked well out of sorts since his move to Old Trafford, scoring just five goals in the famous Red of United.
While some reports have suggested that Sanchez could leave the club, speaking ahead of today’s game against Leicester, former United captain Gary Neville said that his former employers are ‘stuck’ with the £500,000-a-week forward, and questioned if he can adapt his game if he has lost a yard of pace.
“They are stuck with him, Alexis Sanchez, they have got him for two or three years,” Neville said on Sky Sports.
“I think the thing with Alexis Sanchez, I always think … ‘Has he lost a little bit of his spark, a bit of his pace?’ If he has, can he adapt his game?
“Some great players as they move through their years can adapt their play from being someone who can run in behind, somebody who can beat a man, facing them up, to actually someone who can then become more of an assist player, someone who can hold play up.
“I wonder if he can adapt in the next 12 months if he has lost a little bit of that spark and a little bit of that dynamism to get in behind, can he do that?”
Former Liverpool defender Jamie Carragher compared Sanchez’s struggles at United to those of Fernando Torres when he joined Chelsea, and Neville responded by saying that the 29-year-old has stopped doing the things that made him so clinical for Arsenal.
“The feeling that I have is he is a player who played where it hurts, he used to play where it really matters, on the edge of the last line where he would make those runs in behind,” Neville added.
“When a player just loses that little bit of pace, or half a yard, they get caught a lot. They start to drop in and they start to go into areas where it is easy to pick the ball up and do the easy thing.
“He looks to me like a player in the last six to eight months who is doing the simple thing for him which is to drop, look a little bit busy, actually start beating players back to his own goal and then lay it off, rather than beating them that way, and then turning directly on people.
“We’ll see whether its Ole Gunnar Solskjaer [who can get him firing] or whether it’s something that’s a bit of a…not a rot that’s set in…but something that is an adaptation of his career where he is physically.”
Sanchez was handed a rare start against Leicester today, but once again made no impact, and was substituted after 67 minutes of his sides 1-0 win.