Sections of the press claimed that Sanchez was a “difficult” character to have in the dressing room. Martin Keown claimed that he was “the biggest mercenary in football” and that his behaviour “has affected the group”. Thierry Henry claimed he had created a “division in the team”. Arsenal supporters took to social media to claim they were glad to see the back of him when he signed for Manchester United.
Three days after the transfer was finalised, Arsenal beat Chelsea in the EFL Cup semi-final, and Mohamed Elneny went on Twitter to make a dig at Sanchez.
— Mohamed ELNeny (@ElNennyM) January 25, 2018
However, other Arsenal teammates weren’t quite so quick to dig the knife in. Hector Bellerin spoke out in defence of Sanchez.
“The good thing about him, he just wants to win, it doesn’t matter who he’s playing for,” he said. “At that time when he was playing for Arsenal, he just wanted to give 100 percent for Arsenal. It’s true that this season maybe things weren’t going as well for him, but I truly believe that he was giving his 100 percent in every game.”
After Sanchez scored twice in Arsenal’s 3-2 win over Crystal Palace, some of the players went to celebrate with him, while others returned to their own half. This was used as evidence that Sanchez was unpopular in the dressing room but Bellerin explained the real reason behind it.
“I remember even I stayed back, and I was talking to Calum Chambers because there was some tactical stuff that for me was more important to solve than going to celebrate a goal,” Bellerin said. “And then the press comes out and says like, oh the dressing room is divided. And they sold that story. It’s just the way it works, but what you see in the papers, they never actually know what’s going on inside. As bad as people think it was, Alexis always wanted what is best for the club and us players wish him all the best.”
Sanchez played in 22 games for Arsenal this season in all competitions. They won 12, drew seven and lost three.
Since Sanchez has left, they have played 10 games, losing six, including the EFL Cup final, and winning four.
Good job they got rid of that destructive force in the dressing room eh?