With Alexis Sánchez’s contract set to expire in 2018, it’s unsurprising that some of Europe’s most prestigious clubs have been linked to the Arsenal attacker. This season has arguably seen the Chilean at his insatiable best—with 20 goals in 34 appearances in all competitions, he is well on course to achieve his best strike rate to date.
Yet, while the 28 year-old is now at the absolute peak of his powers, the team he plays for have once again failed to match him for quality of output. Arsenal have underwhelmed once more in 2016-17, with sections of their support calling for manager Arsene Wenger to go. With the club’s future looking uncertain, Sánchez could be set to depart. Should he do so, Juventus are among those interested in signing him.
The reigning Italian champions have maintained their dominance of Serie A this term and, with a seven-point lead over Roma, look set to win a sixth straight Scudetto. They are also well placed to win a third consecutive league and cup double, having beaten Napoli 3-1 in the first leg of their Coppa Italia semi-final. In addition, they are 2-0 up against Porto at the halfway point of their Champions League second round tie.
However, rather than resting on their considerable laurels, Juventus seem determined to strengthen further. According to Corriere dello Sport, they have already been in contact with Arsenal to put forward a €30million bid to sign Sánchez ahead of the likes of Paris Saint-Germain.
Assessing Juventus’ existing attacking options, they are high on both quality and quantity. Not only do they possess one of Serie A’s most consistent top scorers in Gonzalo Higuaín, but they are able to partner him with his Argentine compatriot Paulo Dybala, who, at the age of 23, is already one of the most exciting players in the world today. The duet are backed up by a Croatian support team of aerial threat and relentless worker Mario Mandžukić, and sensational 21 year-old prospect Marko Pjaca.
Nonetheless, the Bianconeri would benefit from the added presence of Sánchez were he to join them in the near future.
Since replacing Antonio Conte as Juventus head coach in 2014, Massimiliano Allegri has, over time, altered the team to reflect his own tactical ideas. Rather than revolutionising immediately, he has moved away slowly from Conte’s high-tempo football and 3-5-2 system, implementing his own preferences and systems. Now, Juventus play a pragmatic possession game based on gradual progression of the ball through the thirds. And, in the final third, there is plenty of movement and interchanges to create space and scoring opportunities.
After experimenting successfully with a 4-3-1-2 in 2014-15, Allegri appears to have found a new system with which to move forward. The 4-2-3-1 shape has been utilised frequently by Juventus in recent months, and this latest change has enabled greater usage of the team’s attacking options. Within the new formation, Higuaín leads the line, while Dybala operates as a number 10 behind him. However, there is a shortage of natural wide forwards to fit the front four.
As it stands, Juan Cuadrado brings flair, pace and skill on the right wing, but Mandzukic, a natural centre-forward who prefers working centrally to holding a wide position, is – just as Alvaro Morata before him – used out of position on the left. Sánchez would solve this particular problem were he to sign for Juventus, having often been deployed in this exact position for Arsenal, Chile and previously with Barcelona.
Alternately, if Allegri was to revert back to the 4-3-1-2 that proved effective as Juventus reached the Champions League final in 2015, Sánchez would be the perfect player to play alongside Higuaín up front. While Higuaín would act as a central focal point, holding the ball up and making intelligent runs behind opposition defensive lines, Sánchez would run the channels, looking to drag centre-backs with him. Within this shape, Dybala would likely continue to act as a number 10, playing in the hole behind Higuaín and Sánchez.
Sánchez’s versatility is perhaps the most attractive facet to Allegri, who is renowned not simply for switching shapes mid-season, but mid-game. An astute tactician who organises his team well no matter the lineup, the Italian coach would maximise Sánchez’s ability to play on either flank, in the hole and up front on his own or in a strike partnership.
Another quality that Sánchez would bring to improve Juventus would be his endless reserves of stamina and willingness to apply pressure defensively. Outside of Mandžukić, Allegri doesn’t have an attacker truly capable of instigating the press, but the Chilean attacker would bring just that with his energy and team spirit.
Additionally, the player’s pace and skill would provide a viable attacking outlet cutting in from the left-hand side. Not only could this help to stretch opposition defences, but it could lead to some explosive combinations along with Higuaín and Dybala.
Statistically, Sanchez bests his potential Juventus team-mates in a number of important categories. He has a higher shot accuracy than Higuain, Dybala and Mandzukic, with 59 per cent of his efforts hitting the target. It’s also worth noting that he doesn’t attempt drastically fewer shots per game, meaning his accuracy percentage isn’t offset by a comparatively small number of attempts.
Sánchez also completes more passes per 90 minutes than all bar Dybala, and creates more chances (2.65 per 90 minutes) than either of the Juventus trio. On top of that, he completes more dribbles and wins more tackles.
The above figures showcase Sánchez’s creativity and defensive ability, as well as his clinical touch in and around the final third. And, unlike many other great attackers who have struggled before him, it is unlikely that he would require a lengthy bedding-in period within the rigorously organised confines of Italian football having spent three formative years with Udinese. Indeed, in his final season with the Zebrette, he hit double figures, scoring 12 league goals in 31 appearances.
As an exceptional all-round attacker capable of performing well in a number of roles, and with experience of playing in Serie A before, Alexis Sánchez would fit in perfectly at Juventus.