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Kevin De Bruyne has given the ball away 82 more times than Alexis Sanchez this season – that’s not the Chilean’s problem

Much has been made of the Chilean giving the ball away but he's always done that, even when he's playing well

It’s best to imagine the following article accompanied by Alexis Sanchez pawing a sad tune out of his piano.

The Chilean superstar rocked the footballing world in January when he traded Arsenal for Man United.

But his time at Old Trafford has not been the fairytale the fans had hoped it would be so far.

There are a lot of photos of him sulking

David Klein
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There are a lot of photos of him sulking

Sanchez has just one goal to show for his efforts in ten games under Jose Mourinho — a rebound from a penalty he missed against Huddersfield.

Much has been made of how often he has given the ball away but prepare to have your mind blown…

Kevin De Bruyne has lost possession 82 more times than Sanchez in the Premier League this season.

Heaven forbid!

AFP or licensors
8
Heaven forbid!

Granted, the soon-to-be Player of the Year has featured in five more games than Sanchez but when you work out their game average, the pair come out fairly even.

De Bruyne has lost the ball 22.1 times per league game while Sanchez has lost it 23.3 times.

Not too much of a difference, right?

Both are players who strive to make things happen and part of that is attempting high-risk/high-reward passes, throughballs, crosses, etc.

The nature of this approach means they concede possession here and there, but generally, it’s worth it.

His facial expressions really are a treat

Getty Images - Getty
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His facial expressions really are a treat

Sanchez has always given the ball away a lot, even when he was at his peak.

Last season he scored 24 goals in the league, his best campaign in terms of goalscoring ever.

And guess who gave the ball away more times than anyone else over the course of the whole season?

Yep, that’s the fella

EMPICS Sport
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Yep, that’s the fella

At 29-years-old, he’s not going to suddenly become a master in retaining possession.

And fans shouldn’t want him to try, that’s not what he was signed to do.

He could do with improving his numbers in this regard but the way to do that is with better execution, not a change in approach.

The problem is his explosive style doesn’t suit United’s often negative, lethargic approach.

You’re still imagining the sad piano music, right?

Getty - Contributor
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You’re still imagining the sad piano music, right?

Jose Mourinho is one of the greatest managers of all time when it comes to defensive organisation.

He’s also an expert an identifying a weakness in the opposition and exploiting it to his side’s advantage.

But when it comes to forwards, he’s pretty much always let them get on with it.

He shuffles the pack, he spends lots of money on proven performers, but he’s never quite got his head around the specific dynamics and chemistry of attacking football.

All managers, even legends, have their weaknesses

Getty Images - Getty
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All managers, even legends, have their weaknesses

Back in January, we suggested that pairing Sanchez with Romelu Lukaku may not produce the results United fans expect.

The Belgian target man gave the ball away more than anyone else in the Premier League last season, bar Sanchez.

A front three can accommodate one player of that nature, but two? That’s a potential recipe for fractured football.

This could work, but it’s not right now

EPA
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This could work, but it’s not right now

Let’s not let Arsenal off the hook either.

The Gunners’ decline sparked Sanchez’s frustration which eventually led to his exit.

Clearly, his relationship with Arsene Wenger and the rest of the Arsenal squad had deteriorated to the point of nothingness in his final weeks as a north London resident.

Hardly an environment to draw out a player’s best form before a marquee transfer.

He perfected his ‘I hate you all’ stare

AFP or licensors
8
He perfected his ‘I hate you all’ stare

The challenge of adapting to a new system, while trying shake off the habit of mistrusting team-mates, and also living up to the pressure of playing for a club of United’s stature, has proven testing for Sanchez.

Changes are needed but ignore the tweets about how often he gives the ball away, they just mask the real issues for Sanchez, Mourinho and United.


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