Aston Villa’s new Colombian midfielder has struggled to adapt to the intensity of the English Premier League, with performances echoing his troubling start to life in claret and blue.
The former Valanciennes and Elche man has only made a total of five appearances since joining this season: three substitute appearances – against Newcastle United, Hull City and Liverpool – and two starts. One of those came against Arsenal in the Premier League while the other was against Leyton Orient in the League Cup.
When Sanchez was subbed on for his debut in Villa’s scoreless draw with Newcastle, there were glimpses of the qualities he can bring to the squad. However, there was still that heavy hanging ‘raw’ attached to his £4.7 million head.
The loss to Leyton Orient in the Capital One Cup second round brought match reports presenting Sanchez as the worst performer on the pitch for the boys in claret and blue in his first start at B6.
Despite his troubled start, he managed to play minutes in his second Premier League appearance, which came in the win over Hull City. His performance didn’t do him any justice or help him to stave off his critics: struggling to hold Villa’s midfield shape and cynical at times, the Colombian looked much more raw than he did in his appearance against Newcastle.
Despite this, his first league start came two weeks later in a loss to Arsenal after Ashley Westwood pulled out of the squad in the pre-match warm-up due to illness. Sanchez’s performance failed to fill the void and his eagerness to impress saw him caught out between the defence and midfield. On too many occasions he stood off players when unnecessary – something teams of Arsenal’s pedigrees automatically thrive on.
Statistics from WhoScored show that, in the Premier League, Sanchez has a pass rate of 69.2%, completing thirty-six of the fifty-two attempted. The Colombian anchorman has made a total of six passes, two interceptions, five fouls and one clearance.
With the Villa faithful yet to see his full potential, Sanchez revealed in an exclusive interview for AVTV that he didn’t realise the power of the Premier League until making his full debut: “It is only when you join it and you start to play that you realise just how quick it is.”
Sanchez also stated that he is “now aware of the intensity required” and that he is “training well” to reach that level.
Let’s hope that his hard-work begins to pay off and that we can soon see what ‘La Rocha’ can bring to this ever-improving Aston Villa squad and become a valuable asset to the future success of this football club.