Report: A lot was expected from Alexis Sánchez in his first season in Barcelona and while the Chilean didn't disappoint he left fans with a feeling that he could've done more. Three separate muscle injuries cost Alexis a lot of playing time but when he was on the pitch he was involved with the play a lot.
Alexis was quick to make first impact as he was immediately thrown in the deep by Pep Guardiola. Alexis played the entire first leg of the Supercopa de España just two weeks after completing the transfer from Udinese. Another two weeks later he scored his first Barça and La Liga goal in his league debut against Villarreal.
But just as Alexis appeared to be getting on the same page with his teammates he picked up his first injury of the season - one that sidelined him for nearly two months. That brought Alexis' familiarization process with the team to an abrupt stop which hurt him after he returned. He went scoreless in six games after the recovered (one of his longest stretches of the season) but as the season went toward its end Alexis improved drastically, and even scored his first two El Clasico goal - one at the Santiago Bernabeu.
Despite scoring 15 goals, Alexis' career high, and finishing tied for second on the team (with Cesc Fabregas) he could've easily eclipsed the 20 goal plateau had he not been so wasteful in front of the net. Along with Cesc, Alexis was one of the players that missed the most golden opportunities, something that has to improve going forward.
Technically very gifted Alexis played at three positions throughout the season - both wing positions and as a striker. He appeared comfortable at all three but while playing as the striker his high work rate and the Dani Alves-like motor didn't come to full effect because of the limited defensive duties the strikers have. On the wing Alexis would always be tracking back, trying to disposes the opposing player - and often he was successful.
Inder Methil's View: The young Chilean has definitely impressed. His muscular injuries aside, Alexis has shown that he is more than capable of changing a game if Barcelona find themselves behind and moreover, on average he has played well in every game he was fit to participate in. 34 games (Liga, CL and Fifa Club World Cup) - 14 goals, 5 assists.
However stats don't tell us everything. The point to take from Sanchez' first season with the Blaugrana is that finally, Barcelona have found a No. 9 who: 1) Gets along famously well with Lionel Messi 2) has not flopped (that's big considering Barca have some serious bad luck with that shirt - Bojan anybody?
As far as position is concerned, my opinion is that Alexis is best played as a LW or a true no. 9 (like in the first Clasico with Messi right behind him). With David Villa just back from injury, Alexis should look to stay fit and confirm a starting spot.
I would give him a "B" for his first season and only because of his injuries and that every once in a while he can be slight too eager to look to Messi when there are better options around (decision making will improve as shown during pre season).
Moment of the Season: As I've said before Alexis played much better toward the end of the season and in one of the last league games of the year, against Getafe, he produced a one his all-around best performances, scoring two goals. The first was a terrific long range effort and the second was a lovely close range header - on both goals the opposing keeper had no chance.
Note: Alexis' first goal is shown at the very beginning while the second begins at the 2:30 mark
Barcelona 4 - 0 Getafe All Goals HD [10/04/2012] (via ChepsiHD3)
|Started on the bench||14|
|Shots on goal||33|
Record with Alexis Sánchez in the starting lineup: 21-6-4
2012/13 Outlook: Alexis will be counted on even more in his sophomore Barça campaign and if he manages to remain healthy throughout the season he should end the year with much improved numbers. In the just completed Barça pre-season he showed remarkable signs of improvement as Alexis was always around the ball, demonstrating good link up with especially Messi and Ibrahim Afellay and exhibiting improved finishing.
Next Up: David Villa